The Denver Art Museum’s new exhibition, Spun: Adventures in Textiles is worthy of many visits. 14 different curators have created textile based exhibits to explore and enjoy. As a sewist I’m drawn to tactile art. I love anything I can touch or at a minimum extremely textured objects to stare at and imagine touching. Walking into the Material World exhibit on the top floor of the Hamilton Building I found myself enraptured with the work of Mary Ehrin. As luck would have it Mary was on hand.
The foyer of Material World is filled with her artwork. She created a series of bright pink chiffon panels with shiny iridescent beadwork. Mary informed the group that the sequins sewn to the panels were holographic and don’t reflect the real world. This panels shift and dance as you walk in, inviting you into the larger modern exhibition.
Mary’s sculpture Molten Meteorite is a gilded lump covered in luxe bag handles and snake-skin patterns. There’s something slightly creepy about the piece, but the gold seems so tantalizing at the same time. During the introduction to the exhibition the audience was asked to consider if humans are somewhat like raccoons in that we’re drawn to shiny objects. I was clearly living up to this metaphor, I couldn’t take my eyes off the meteor.
However the piece that made me melt was Purple Python Pool, a large purple oval covered in luxurious ostrich feathers. It begs to be cuddled. Yet, posted next to it is a large sign informing viewers that touching it is not allowed. Mary said it was the first time she’d seen the piece in a decade. As it turns out, the Denver Art Museum had Purple Python Pool in storage until recently when it was brought out for Spun. According to Mary, attaching the thousands of frilly feathers took an incredibly long time and required the aid of an assistant. The python in the name comes from the faux-python skin stretched across the wooden panels holding the feathers. Somehow this seemed appropriate, all that fluff and fanciness disguising a reptile underbelly. Like a strange creature that had come home to roost, Purple Python Pool is a must see at the Spun Exhibition.
But don’t stop at the foyer to Material World. Continue inside to discover thrilling textiles presented in ways unimaginable. If you’re truly daring, take a step into the installation by Ernesto Neto known as Walking in Venus Blue Cave. From the outside it looks like a white beanbag spilling from an alluring blue doorway. Then you notice someone carefully stepping inside and you realize you too can walk into this mysterious cave.
The entire floor of the cave is a large amorphous, nylon bean-bag-like cushion that eats your foot with each step. Hanging from the ceiling are squishy stalactite that look a bit like uvulas. Along the seams there are these pretty little white buttons. Stepping inside made me feel like I was exploring uncharted territory on a planet far, far away.
Ultimately, the Spun exhibition left me flabbergasted. I’m a fan of art in general, but this experience was so much more than an average visit to the art museum. My love of sewing and textiles made every square inch fascinating, from the ancient tapestries to the surreal knit sculptures made from mylar. If you have the time to visit Denver, be sure to stop in and take a peek at Spun.