PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston July_August 2021_rev

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T wo exhibitions this summer are s p u n a r o u n d textiles, threaded with notions of transformation and cultural identity. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, "Olga de Amaral: To Weave a Rock" marks the first major touring retrospective for this Colombian artist, nearing 90. Concurrently, Foto Relevance curates the Texas debut for Alia Ali, a 30-something Yemeni-Bosnian-American talent whose CV exudes globalism: She lives and works in L.A., New Orleans, Marrakech, and Roswell, New Mexico, where she's currently an artist in residence. Separated by generations and continents, de Amaral and Ali both interject significance into the craft-centric kingdom of fiber arts. This long overdue examination of de Amaral's talismanic textiles will come as a revelation to most viewers. Few art historians are even aware of her woven works, despite their presence in collections from MoMA to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition unfolds in four sections that underscore the artist as trailblazer: Radical Materialism, Rebel Warp, Alchemy, and Line. It also devotes two companion galleries to de Amaral's environments defined by Brumas (Mists) and Estelas (Steles). Both series shock our perceptions, with the physicality of the artist's often gold-leafed, stone-like Steles standing guard as inscrutable sentinels. In contrast, in her hypnotic Brumas, vaporous skeins of colored thread dissolve into pure mists of color. The MFAH and its assistant curator of decorative arts, craft, and design, Anna Walker, co-organized the six- decade survey of de Amaral with WOMEN'S WORK TAPESTRIES, TEXTILES, AND TURBANS AT MFAH AND FOTO RELEVANCE (continued) 38

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