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  • Mark Griglunas

Fold UnFold

Handwoven coverlets by Mark Grigalunas for FOLD UNFOLD -

Lyon House Arts Center, Athens, GA

FOLD UNFOLD - a project by Susan Falls and Jessica Smith

This exhibition catalog documents FOLD UNFOLD, a project by Susan Falls and Jessica Smith. Coverlet weaving requires tremendous aptitude, but coverlets are not well known when it comes to southern material culture. In our research, we found 19th and early 20th century samples folded up in closets, doubled over beneath beds, or stuffed unseen in chests rather than exhibited as artworks integral to the production of economic, political, and cultural values in southern households. To reframe these objects, we folded historic coverlets into a pillar to connote the foundational role of cotton in the emerging global economy and the role southern women played in the aesthetic narrative of their landscape. We also invited contemporary makers to weave overshot coverlets in a black and white color scheme. This palette was chosen not only to underline (and undermine) some of the ways we found color being used to signify class and race in our research, but also to draw viewers’ attention to the formal qualities of weaving work. Viewers can only glimpse the pattern, palette, and worksmanship of these coverlets when they are folded. To reveal these works, the pillars were taken down and the coverlets unfolded in a public performance. The objects were restacked at full size to form a minimalist contemporary sculpture meant to call attention to art/craft, formal/domestic, and nonfunctional/functional dichotomies.

Fold Unfold invited skilled makers to weave functional bedding on manually operated looms; these coverlets were shown in a contemporary installation at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, Georgia. The coverlets were folded and stacked to reference architectural pillars. One pillar stood in the formal entrance hall of the historic Ware-Lyndon House. Visible from both inside and out, this pillar will represented the historic role southern women played in building an aesthetic narrative of the cultural landscape with another pillar in the center of the Lukasiewicz Gallery which connects the historical space to the contemporary spaces of the Art Center. In a public performance at the closing of the show, the pillars were taken down, and each coverlet was unfolded to reveal the individual creative work within the community of weavers. All of the unfolded coverlets were then re-stacked, at full size, to form a minimalist contemporary sculpture which recalls their original function as bedding. Each coverlet is professionally photographed and published in a downloadable catalogue available to a wide audience.

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