The Middle of the 20th century in America brought an expansion of mediums and techniques in what we traditionally categorized as “Fine Art.” Such redefinition of craft mediums helped expand our understanding of the act of creativity. The current generation of textile artists whose work we can now find in the art gallery take craft techniques and reconfigure them into work that rivals painting and printmaking in its expressiveness, while maintaining the supple textures of the world of fiber art.
These three artists approach the use of textiles in much the same way other artistsapproach paint. Elmer Lucille Allen uses the Shibori dying technique to create geometric patterns evocative of primitive tribal motifs. Denise Furnish reclaims discarded quilts to use as the basis of abstract paintings of bold color and textural complexity. Vallorie Henderson creates her material at a more fundamental level, geometrically abstracted landscapes made from hand-dyed and hand-felted wool and silk organza with both machine and hand stitching.
Elmer Lucille Allen, a clay and fiber artist was born in Louisville and in 1953 graduated from Spalding University (then Nazareth College) with a chemistry degree – one of the country’s first African-American female chemists. In 1966 she became the first African American chemist at the Brown-Forman Company in Louisville. Allen was one of three women employed at the company, where she held the title of senior analytical chemist. She retired in 1997 and returned to college at the University of Louisville earninga MAin creative arts with a major in ceramics in 2002. Her work can be viewed in the main stairwell of Metro Hall.
In the second floor hallway, you can find the work of Denise Furnish. Denise received her MA in Fine Arts Fiber from the University of Louisville in 2010, and a BFA from that same institution in 2008, having also studied at the Louisville School of Art and the University of Kentucky, where she earned her BA in Fine Arts. She has been recognized with awards and grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, has exhibited in Mainz, Germany, and twice received the Juror’s Choice Award of Excellence in the annual Artist as Quiltmaker exhibit in Oberlin, Ohio. "A quilt is shelter, adornment, and gift. A quilt is a story–a text that reveals a time in history, a vernacular. I am aware of its significance as both art history and women’s history." she says in her artist statement.
Raised in Somerset, Vallorie Henderson is proud of her rural Kentucky roots. “I've lived and worked in both large and small communities in and outside of the United States. My Kentucky heritage has always provided me with a strong sense of self and the confidence to approach life with enthusiasm and curiosity.” Vallorie said of herself recently. “I will always call Kentucky my home.” That heritage provided early exposure to multiple traditional crafts. She is an experienced river cane basket maker in the Eastern Cherokee tradition as well as an award-winning quilter. Her work can be found in the 4th-floor hallway of Metro Hall. “My creative process stems from a belief in perfection and symmetry but with the knowledge that these qualities often hide within imperfection and asymmetry. I want to bring a love of exploring, a minimalist sensibility, and a somewhat organic approach to making. For this reason, I strive to understand the capacities of my chosen materials, wool and silk, to perform both physically and poetically." she says about her work.
The exhibition is on view at Louisville Metro Hall during their business hours:
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 9AM - 5PM
- Saturday: 12AM–5PM
- Sunday: Closed
- Monday: 9AM–12PM