Thursday, February 4, 2016

Liz Robb- PDX Window Project


Liz Robb, Réttir (detail), Icelandic wool, 2015, image courtesy of PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.

I stumbled across Liz Robb’s work while walking the streets of Portland in the PDX Window Project, housed by PDX CONTEMPORARY ART. I have always enjoyed the idea of utilizing the gallery window to entice and surprise people walking past and going about their day. The PDX Window Project allows unknowing passers by to interact with contemporary art as well as allows the art to interact more directly with the city environment. I came across Liz Robb’s work in much the same way. I was just leaving another gallery, admittedly disappointed in the work that I saw. I was not expecting to come across Robb’s textile sculptures and I was pleasantly surprised.

Liz Robb, Sauðfé, Icelandic wool, wood, 2015, image courtesy of PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.

Liz Robb, Réttir, Icelandic wool, 2015, image courtesy of PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.

 “I respond to the inherent energy of the materials and how they interact and form my decisions, balancing the tension between my control and relinquishment of control through the process” –Liz Robb

Robb created the textile sculptures during a two-month fiber based textile residency in Iceland with The Icelandic Textile Center. One of my favorite facts that I discovered while researching her work is that she used yarns mostly found at grocery stores and gas stations and they were woven on over 100 year-old looms. I also enjoy that Robb is invested in the meditative processes of working with textiles. She states that the repetitive motions of dying, weaving, wrapping, and compressing foster a connection between the subconscious of the mind and the body. I too have noticed the meditative quality of textile and craft based arts, but Robb is one of the few artists that I have come across who uses this process to inform her work.

Liz Robb, Torfbærinn, Icelandic wool, wood, 2015, image courtesy of PDX CONTEMPORARY ART. 
“I utilize the power of the materials to construct architectural frames from which to build weighted objects in space” –Liz Robb
Liz Robb, Huldufólk III (black), Icelandic wool, reeds, 2015, image courtesy of PDX CONTEMPORARY ART.
Robb’s description of her sculptures accurately defines my experience with them. One piece in particular, Huldufólk III (black), stands in front of the other pieces and is suspended from the ceiling. The long black tassel has certain buoyancy despite its large size and the inherent weight of the fibers. Her sculptures hold a totem-like quality. The sculptures also study the relationship between chaos and order. Compact and detailed grids unravel and cascade into a heap on the ground.

Liz Robb's Window Project will be up through February 27th.

PDX Contemporary Art
Tuesday - Saturday
11 am - 6 pm
925 NW Flanders
Portland, Oregon 97209

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