Sophia Narrett was a painter before she began “drawing with thread,” as she told Hyperallergic. Dense with figurative detail, her embroidered bas-reliefs weave together not only fabrics but also various daydream-like narrative threads.
In Soul Kiss, a solo show opening at Los Angeles’s Kohn Gallery on November 13, Narrett presents her most recent works. Per Narrett’s associative style, interpretations are bound to vary by viewer. In what looks like a large Rorschach, one might see a hallucinatory experience of isolation. One might just as well see a fairly run-of-the-mill orgy.
The smaller works show human encounters at closer range. In “Sweethearts,” the first piece Narrett created for the show, a nude female figure hugs a clothed man — all while straddling a mailbox, as if delivering a particularly zealous valentine. “I’m interested in what happens when one figure is clothed and one is nude,” Narrett explained. “Does it imply that one figure is in control, or is it more complicated than that? When is it control and when is it worship?”
Narrett’s interest in the post-wave feminist possibilities of role play, and in craft itself, are ironically traceable to a single source: “I think, more than anything, the activity that my art practice relates back to is playing with dolls,” she said. “My dad and brother made me a dollhouse growing up, and I was always sewing little curtains or pillows for it.”
Narrett sees parallel play as more than a girlhood phenomenon: “I’m interested in the idea that in taking on a fictive role, you may be experimenting with what you truly want to be…[By] architecting this space of play, you can reach some sort of truth within yourself or with the other person.” But she stops short of the notion that use of once-gendered materials is a social or political act in itself today: “I wouldn’t say that my using thread is not a feminist statement or is just a material…[But] I came to embroidery very serendipitously. I didn’t go out to engage in those materials consciously.” It was only months after working with needle and thread that Narrett learned about her medium’s feminist history, and how women artists “really paved the way for craft material to be in the art world.”
True to her beginnings as an artist, Narrett draws most of her inspiration from an array of painters, from Cecily Brown to Edgar Degas. Indeed, in the woman on the mailbox, one might see traces of Degas’s faceless bathers. But where Degas’s nude objects were confined to too-shallow bathtubs, Narrett’s are, by contrast, very much free to roam.
Sophia Narrett: Soul Kiss opens at Kohn Gallery (1227 N Highland Ave, Hollywood, Los Angeles) on November 13 and continues through January 15.
I won’t bother you with talk about how obscenely decadent and out of touch the Frieze art fair is. And yet…
Curators Tahnee Ahtone, La Tanya S. Autry, Frederica Simmons, Dan Cameron, and Jeremy Dennis offered the public a window into their curatorial processes through the work they produced during their fellowships.
Who says tragedy has to be tragic? Co-presented with National Black Theatre, this fresh, Pulitzer-winning take on a classic centers Black joy and liberation.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Jeremy Dennis presents an exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Dan Cameron presents an email exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
For the triennial’s eighth edition, work by more than 70 artists is featured in 12 exhibitions and a polyphonic program, installed at various locations throughout the German city.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Frederica Simmons presents an email exhibition to offer insight into their curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, La Tanya S. Autry presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This exhibition explores the work and short-but-impactful life of the groundbreaking ceramic artist. Now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Tahnee Ahtone presents an email exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This week: Why does the internet hate Amber Heard? Will Congress recognize the Palestinian Nakba? And other urgent questions.
Artist Dan Jian makes the point that landscapes and memory are one and the same.