November 2 – January 20, 2018
Petra Soesemann is Professor of Art and Chair of the Foundation Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art. She earned her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Selected grants have supported opportunities for artist residencies, research and travel. Residencies include Lucid Art Foundation in California, Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain and RAiR in Roswell, New Mexico. Research and travels include remote viewing studies at The Monroe Institute in VA, travels to Turkey/Istanbul Biennials, Fulbright fellowship/Peru to research Incan architecture, and research of Mayan architecture in Central America.
Selected exhibition venues include the Praxis Fiber Workshop, Cleveland, OH; FAVA Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, Oberlin, OH; Roswell Museum and Art Center, NM; International Quilt Festival, Chicago and Houston venues; Southeast Ohio Cultural Arts Center, Athens, OH; Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City, MO; Texas Quilt Museum, La Grange TX; and Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY.
My art celebrates the paradoxical human odyssey: sensuous beings navigating a world of mental constructs, while simultaneously proceeding as intuitive beings seduced by a world of matter and fact. It is an on-going exploration of material, subject and style to convey visual narratives via the formal elements of pattern, repetition, color and texture.
As a medium, fabric resonates with direct and intimate tactile experience and elicits a visceral desire to touch and to feel. It is this connection to material and form that I hope engages the viewer beyond initial visual impact.
My fabric constructions often manipulate pattern and color to bring perception into conflict with uncertainty, engaging the basic mechanisms of “mind seeking meaning.” I’m fascinated with altered and disrupted patterns as a reflection on the possibilities of visual language and communication — as metaphor, as examination of the perspectives we each hold, and literally as frames for our perceptions.
I locate myself firmly within the history of “makers.” I value the grounding of tradition and the privilege of forming objects by hand. I also value the evolution of ideas and the emergence of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural possibilities. Through my work I search for ways to link my personal experiences and insights to broader contexts.
I’ve been working with fabric constructions for several decades. Recent explorations (Saturn’s Hexagon and grid studies) were informed by Hubble space images. I became fascinated with these images and was amazed to discover the persistent hexagonal cloud formation on Saturn’s North Pole, as it seemed a direct link to the pattern explorations of hexagon shapes I’ve been working with in my studio: a macro/micro connection!
Although I regularly come back to the art quilt format, I’m also interested in pursuing related forms, such as the framed works in “Conjunctions,” constructed from fused layers of sheer fabrics. I continue to explore transparencies and translucencies that challenge perception; I remain fascinated with partially obstructed and altered views, and with installations of veils that can reveal or conceal depending on the light.
During a recent artist residency at the Lucid Art Foundation in California, I decided against pre-planning and the intense labor required for larger-scale art quilts; instead I was determined to work responsively. I took a pile of scraps and churned through them daily. In this process, I rediscovered small hand-dyed silk samples which suggested images; I presented them simply “as is,” resulting in the Pareidolia series of small framed works.