Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery (WIR) has partnered with 108 Contemporary and artist Consuelo J. Underwood creating “power wands” for her upcoming exhibition “Thread Songs from the Borderlands: A New Borderline.”
WIR participants created art with 108|Contemporary staff for the exhibit. In May, they had the opportunity to work directly with a visiting professional artist and have their work included in this exhibit. Under the guidance of Consuelo, the women used fiber techniques and simple objects – safety pins, thread, beads, paint, paper and fabric – to construct power wants that represented each individual’s distinctive personality and voice. As they finished their wants, the women talked about the symbolism and reasoning for the materials they chose. One woman used strands of beads to symbolize the age of her children. Paper flower petals represent her spirit that covers and protects a bit of red fabric signifying her heart. Other women used color to represent concerns they face in their daily lives, such as inequality and cultural identity issues.
Underwood’s artistic theme of Borderlands and border issues draws an exact connection to the mission of WIR. WIR began as a response to the fact that Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate of women per capita. This issue plagues a community defined by its borders as a state. Who better to play an active role in this message than a community that understands the impact of defined borders. Women going through the WIR program, as an alternative to incarceration, have felt the effects but have found the power within themselves and through the WIR program to rehabilitate.
Underwood views the power wand as a cultural symbol and tool to strength which have roots in many cultures throughout history.
Consuelo Jimenez Underwood: Thread Songs from the Borderlands,
Solo Exhibition featuring new work celebrating Woody Guthrie and a new Borderline installation
108 E Mathew B. Brady St.
June 1 – July 22, 2018
Opening: Friday, June 1, 6:00-9:00 pm – Tulsa Art District First Friday Art Crawl
Artist Talk, June 2, 1:30-3:00 pm – Guide audiences through her career, processes, and works exhibited.
This exhibition is generously supported by presenting sponsor Robin Ballenger and program sponsor Charles & Marion Weber Foundation. Programming is supported by partner The Woody Guthrie Center.
Over thirty years ago, when “craft vs. art” was the most divisive issue in the arts, I discovered and established my “authentic artistic voice,” refocused my artistic studies from the paintbrush and pigments to “needle and thread.” Empowered by the voices of my indigenous maternal ancestors, I began to cross the intellectual borders that separated the hand and the mind(craft), from the spirit (fine art)
My work is a reflection of personal border experiences: the interconnectedness of societies, insisting on beauty in struggle, and celebrating the notion of “seeing” this world through my tri-cultural lens. Engaging materials, which reflect a contemporary hyper-modern sensitivity, are interwoven to create large-scale fiber art that is inspired in equal measures by land, politics and Spirit.
The artwork becomes an external validation of ancestral memory and personal quest. Beauty, grace, and flowers soothe the quiet rage that has permeated the Americas for more than five hundred years. Thus, when I weave, sew, or embellish, the anonymous viejitas (hags) seem to express their encouragement and support of my creations.