Laced With History – John M. Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI

Spirit House - Anna Peach
Above is a photo of a piece called “Spirit House” by Anna Peach. It is a dress and train assembled of found pieces of lace. It must be seen to be truly appreciated, the scale and construction are most impressive (as Tom would say).

To give you an example of the ingenuity of the artists in the lace exhibit. There is one who does pieces with “lost substrate” (my term). Think of “lost wax” bronze casting, where an original is made in wax, a mold is then cast around it, then the mold is heated to melt the wax, which runs out. Finally, the mold is filled with bronze to produce a finished piece. In the lost substrate process, delicate lace work is created on a soluble material. Once the lace work is finished, the whole piece is washed with water, the substrate dissolves, leaving only the lace. Brilliant!

Another brilliant example of creative artwork is a piece constructed entirely of hot glue mixed with pigment. The piece, called “Swirl” is like a great big swirl of paisley, and is about twelve feet across. Is is exhibited in a corner room of the gallery. It provokes the question, “How did they move it?”

Much is made in this exhibit of the role that lace has played in society over the years, and its delicate dance with such variable concepts as femininity and feminism. Merrill Mason, amongst others, plumbs the depth of these relationships with a collection of pieces in which lace is cast in iron or bronze, and in exploring the molds which would be needed to do so.

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