This 1972 stipple engraving by William Hincks shows the machinery of a bleach mill and is part of The Linen Industry exhibit on display in the Merwin and Wakeley Galleries this summer.
Merwin and Wakeley Summer Exhibit Promises Linens and Things

June 7, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - This summer, Illinois Wesleyan's Merwin and Wakeley Galleries will present two exhibitions, which will be on display June 12-August 21.

The galleries, located in the Joyce G. Eichhorn Ames School of Art building (6 Ames Plaza West, Bloomington), are open Friday-Monday 12-3 p.m. for the summer and will be closed July 3-4.

An opening reception featuring live music performed by Old Time Jam and lace-making demonstrations by the Prairie Lacers will take place on Sunday, June 12, at 2 p.m. at the galleries. All events are free and open to the public.

Woven Through Time, An Exhibition of Historical Linen Textiles and Contemporary Artworks will feature textiles from the collections of the McLean County Museum of History and other McLean County private collections, including the David Davis Mansion, alongside the work of four contemporary artists: local artist Naomi Whiting Towner, Mark Arctander, Marna Goldstein Brauner and Karen Savage.

Whiting Towner, a Bloomington resident and professor of art at Illinois State University from 1965-2000, has been an exhibiting fiber artist for over 40 years. This summer she will lend the galleries a selection of weavings from her Mirage Series, produced in the 1990s. Inspired by the landscapes of Illinois and the Southwest, these multi-layer wall hangings incorporate varied weave structures and reflective materials to emphasize the illusion of landscape, light, and vaporous movement.

Arctander, represented by the Roy Boyd Gallery of Chicago, explains his art as the liberation of an everyday object from its former context in order to “open the door for the viewer to confront and reposition the object.” His four new works, mounted and framed antique linen napkins embroidered with unexpected quotes, embody both his recurring theme of contrast in material and idea, and his consistent use of wit, whimsy, sarcasm and cynicism.

Goldstein Brauner, professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, modifies antique textiles such as doilies, aprons, and tablecloths by adding her own photographic imagery and self-described “obsessive beading.” According to the artist, these time-consuming techniques emphasize the preciousness of the original object, which she then stiffens with starch, finalizing its transition from functional, domestic object to work of art.

Savage, represented by the Aron Packer Gallery of Chicago, Sara Ranchouse Publishing of Chicago and Printed Matter of New York, will exhibit six photograms from her Handkerchief Series. Savage says that through photography, the monogrammed handkerchiefs are moved from their “decorative and functional purpose into the arena of the photographic portrait,” where the embroidered names serve as a reminder of the person who once owned and used the handkerchief.

The other exhibit, The Linen Industry, organized and circulated by Blair-Murrah Exhibitions of Sibley, Mo., will compare the linen making process of the 18th century with today's textile manufacture. Shown will be a rare set of stipple engravings by William Hincks, first published in London in 1782, that illustrate each step of Irish linen production in the 1700s. In order to emphasize the contrast with today's technology, 10 large black and white photographs depicting the modern process of linen weaving on computer-guided, automatic looms will also be on display.

For additional information, contact Jennifer Lapham, director of the Merwin and Wakeley Galleries, at (309) 556- 3391.

Contact Rebecca Welzenbach, (309) 556-3181