healing through art

Fiber

Vignette: Bette Levy

“The hope of my last exhibition was that I would be able to continue to produce art, and the reality of this exhibition is that I can and I will.” - Bette Levy

“ReBirth” by Bette Levy, Reconfiguration of a piece completed in 2017, Hand crochet, powertex, 42in circumference, $1100

“ReBirth” by Bette Levy, Reconfiguration of a piece completed in 2017, Hand crochet, powertex, 42in circumference, $1100

Love and loss seem to always be inextricably tied together, each deepening the impact of the other. It is as succinct an example of the balance of life. Harmony is never really about analogous emotional experience, but about contrast. Bette Levy may have been wise enough to understand that concept before recent events in her life, but some lessons never stop being reinforced. Her new show at Pyro Gallery addresses this. Also on display is work in wood by Indiana artist Paul Schreck.

Rebirth is a follow-up to my two previous exhibitions, Before… and …And After, in 2016 and 2017, respectively. These exhibitions traced work created before and during my marriage to micro-surgeon Robert Acland, as well as work created after his untimely death. Rebirth examines my new creative work produced in the three years since his loss.”

“While the word rebirth typically refers to an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth, it also refers to the ‘action of reappearing or starting to flourish or increase after a decline’, ‘a revival or renewal’, ‘a spiritual regeneration’ (Google Dictionary). In June/July 2018, I traveled to Japan as part of a World Shibori Symposium seminar and tour, supported in part by the Great Meadows Foundation. The experiences there served to jump-start my creative processes, which had lain dormant since Robert’s death.“

Levy describe the use of the circular form, “…which is reflective of a Japanese concept called the Enso circle. The Enso circle represents wholeness, completion, and perfection. It seems fitting to me that I am drawn to this form as I continue to heal.”

“A Trinity of Faucets” by Bette Levy, Hand crochet, nylon cord, faucets, various sizes, 2018

“A Trinity of Faucets” by Bette Levy, Hand crochet, nylon cord, faucets, various sizes, 2018

Yet the circle in “Rebirth” is also a chain, a succession of individual elements that have become interconnected. In this way Levy does not isolate the circle for its ideals, but illustrates how the healing journey is one step at a time, slowly rebuilding that wholeness overtime. All of Levy’s work shows this steadfast craft and attention to detail. The peace and harmony must be earned.

In another piece, “A Trinity of Faucets”, the continuum is built, again as linked components intrinsic to textile work, but here built around aging, discarded faucet handles. There is a contrast in the rusted steel and the delicate fiber material surrounding it but there is also an easy relationship of pattern that underscores the strength that comes from interlocking filaments of any material.

“In my 2017 exhibit, I showed a piece with three elements: a large rectangular crocheted piece from which a smaller circle had been removed, flanked by the removed circle and a border circle. As a whole, that piece represented what the death of my husband meant to the relationship, to me as an individual, and what my hopes were for the future. In its newly reconstituted form, ‘Rebirth’ suggests the renewal of my creative energies and output.”

“This exhibition displays a wide and new variety of techniques, processes, and mediums, many of which were triggered by my travel experiences in Japan. I have included works in spun paper, knitted wire, and boro (the Japanese technique of mending and patching), as well as more familiar techniques as large-scale crochet on rusted objects and work with pig gut. My new work diverges from my earlier abstract-stitched work to more symmetrical and grid-like structures. While my two previous exhibitions were a way for me to process the experience of my husband’s death, this exhibition is more experimental, more playful, a means for me to try out new methods and ways of working. I see it as a start of new directions and an opportunity to stretch my wings.”

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Rebirth, opens on February 14, 2019, at Pyro Gallery, 1006 East Washington Street, and lasts through March 23. Also showing in the gallery will be work in wood by Indiana artist, Paul Schreck. An opening reception will take place on Friday, February 15 from 6-9 pm with a gallery talk on Saturday, February 16 at 10 am. Regular hours are Thursday through Saturday, from 12 noon to 6 pm, until 9 pm on first Fridays, and by special appointment with the artist.

 Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Education: BS, Experimental Psychology, Carnagie-Mellon University, Pennsylvania; MA, Art Therapy Institute of Expressive Therapies, University of Louisville; MFA Fiber Arts, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville.
Gallery Representative: PYRO Gallery (Louisville)


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“Boro II” by Bette Levy, Hand stitched, cotton thread, dyed handkerchiefs, various fabrics, 30x38in, 2018, $800

“Boro II” by Bette Levy, Hand stitched, cotton thread, dyed handkerchiefs, various fabrics, 30x38in, 2018, $800

Spinning Out” by Bette Levy, Spun paper, Japanese ledger books, glue, 24x36in, 2019, $300

Spinning Out” by Bette Levy, Spun paper, Japanese ledger books, glue, 24x36in, 2019, $300


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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