Saturday, January 27, 2007

Yarn and Cultural Rebellion

In today's New York Times Arts section Martha Schwendener reviews the show "Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting," currently up at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. The exhibition sounds interesting, but according to the review too few of the works in the show are actually made from yarn or lace, but rather many are constructed of other materials - metal, porcelain slip, etc. - and made to look like knitting or lace or they are conceptual works about crafting documented by photographs. Whether actual lace and knitting or not, the show certainly sounds like it's worth a visit. If New York City is too far to travel to check out yarn's subversive powers (and even if it's not), we've got some pretty controversial crochet work up in the gallery right now that's been attracting a lot of attention. Above is the short documentary directed by Brandon Bloch that we premiered at the gallery last Saturday about the controversy caused by Ming Yi Sung Zaleski's crocheted sculpture. Her work will be up in the gallery through next week.

There's also a great short piece by Melena Ryzik accompanying the review about how young people are increasingly seeing crafting as a rebellion of sorts against our overwhelmingly consumer culture. Ming's work does seem to be a rebellion of sorts. Not for her inclusion of genitalia, which in other artistic media would be pretty standard, but for her elevation of crochet to a fine art medium. We all own crocheted afghans or hats or scarves, but few of us have crocheted works crafted by a classically trained sculptor. Ming explained to me as we were hanging the show last Thursday that crocheting human and animal forms differs greatly from sculpting them out of clay since when you sculpt a body you build it from the inside out, with bones and muscles covered with skin; when you crochet a body you're starting with the skin, so you need to be able to predict what the body will look like when stuffed.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Women's Work

We had a meeting in the gallery Sunday with four of the five artists to be featured in our March exhibition, "Women's Work." Abbe McGray, Jenny Davis, Molly Brose and Laurel Hausler chatted with us about what they're working on and all the artists got a chance to finally meet each other (Mary Chiaramonte, whose work will also be in the show, was unable to make it to the meeting). It was nice to spend the afternoon talking with such a talented group of women. In 2006 we met so many fantastic young female artists (in fact, we met more women whose work appealed to us than we did men). Finally Nevin and I saw the pattern and decided to put together this exhibition showcasing these five young women and their distinct world views. The exhibition, entitled "Women's Work," will run from March 14 - April 8 with an opening reception on Thursday, March 15 from 6-9 pm. Pictured: Molly Brose, Keep Up, watercolor on paper, 10"x10".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Naked Monkey Parts - Oh My!

Ming Yi Sung's "Settlement With Monkeys" has been rolled up like this on the table in the gallery for the past two days. It's even cuter and more impressive in person than in pictures! She and Brandon Bloch will be coming in this evening to hang work and set up the A/V stuff for Saturday night's opening/premier. Today's Express has a nice little write up on this weekend's event in the WeekendPass section today (entitled "DC Attorneys Demand Briefs" ha!).

Here are some screen grabs from "Public Art Private Parts." Come on out Saturday night to check out the premier of the movie and this and many more of Ming's crochet pieces.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Travel and Leisure and Give Nod to Nevin Kelly Gallery

If you haven't read the article on the resurgence of DC's MidCity area in Travel and Leisure Magazine, it was reposted yesterday on Writer Meghan Truelove calls the Nevin Kelly Gallery "a delightful hybrid of old-world skillfulness and new-world dash." Read the entire article here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Come out Next Saturday for Subversive Crochet!

here's the release:


Public Screening and Reception Saturday, January 20, 2007 from 6-9pm.
Artist’s work on display January 19 – February 2, 2007.

A 2005 exhibition of knitted sculpture in a Washington DC office building sparked controversy among tenants because it included work that the tenants (predominately lawyers) found offensive. The controversy centered on crocheted sculptures by local artist Ming Yi Sung (now Zeleski) that showed human figures and monkeys complete with crocheted nipples and genitalia. The controversy attracted significant media attention. A short documentary about the controversy, called “Public Art, Private Parts,” will premier at the Nevin Kelly Gallery on January 20 at 7:00 pm, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The artist and the film’s director, American University graduate student Brandon Bloch, will be present. The gallery will display Ming’s work in an impromptu exhibit from January 19 through February 2. The exhibition will include the work at the center of the controversy—“Settlement with Monkeys”--which is now owned by gallery director Nevin J. Kelly

Background: In June of 2005, Binnie B. Fry, director of the Eleven Eleven Sculpture Space in the office building at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, curated an exhibition entitled “Not the Knitting You Know,” that presented knitting and crochet as an artistic medium. Four artists were featured in the exhibition, but the controversy centered on Ming’s cartoonish crocheted figures, which included male, female and intersexed humans with bright red crocheted nipples, monkeys with prominent male genitalia, and goats with bloated bright pink udders. The building’s anchor tenant, the DC office of a prominent Philadelphia law firm, demanded that the works be removed from the building’s public art space. Jonathan Padget covered the controversy for the Washington Post in his tongue-in-cheek article “Crocheted Nudes Cause Brows to Knit” (June 23, 2005; Page C01). Ming’s solution to the problem was elegant: she quickly created a number of crocheted fig leaves to cover the offending parts (which those who previously took offense could not resist lifting to see what lay beneath).

Brandon Bloch, documentary film producer, artist, and first year graduate student in American University’s Master’s Program in Film and Video, recently directed a 5-minute short film in which he and his collaborators, animator Brad Lambert and editor Brad Soucy playfully outline the story with interviews and animation.

For a gallery of Ming Yi Sung’s work:

For additional information contact:
Julia Morelli
Nevin Kelly Gallery
1517 U St, NW
Washington, DC 20010
Tel: 202-232-3464
Fax: 202-232-3465

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Washington Diplomat Profiles Nevin Kelly and the Gallery

Thank you to Rachel Ray (not that one), local journalist, for her great article on the Nevin Kelly Gallery in this month's Washington Diplomat. The article profiles Nevin's transition from lawyer to gallerist and focuses mainly on the gallery's Polish artists such as Krzystof Kokoryn, Mikolaj Kasprzyk, Edward Dwurnik, and Michal Zaborowski (whose "Good Night" is pictured at left).

Thanks to Rachel and the Washington Diplomat for the great profile. Read the entire article here.