Holly Kuhl

Juror's Distinction

← Return to From Afar: 2020 Senior Art Exhibition



As a means of seeking what constitutes the divide between decoration and function, my paintings layer fictitious patterns over the “real” or premade. The found material provides noise, fighting optically with shapes placed overtop; the subjects, often in a recumbent pose, are the only offering of visual stability or comfort. The tension between what is worn on the body and what is constructed as space serves as a reminder of the many ways in which a fiber can function. My aim is to explore those physical possibilities and limitations.

I think a lot about the relationship between craft and fine art. What does silk lend to a work in comparison to roughed denim? How does a recycled tablecloth carry my treasured oil paint? Where do associations with gender or value tie into a pattern’s history? To honor the material is to utilize it, and I do so almost maternally; if a portrait or work of art is inherently precious, then my work seeks to elevate a scrap of fabric to the status of an artwork. I search for patterns and designs that will relate to the subject, but that is not to say I attempt complete seamlessness or balance. Refined areas sit beside those that break from the rule. Colors do not always “match” and patterns do not always repeat. I like playing tricks with believability and familiarity in ways that require the viewer to question what is real and what is important. The work satisfies a need. The need to make. The need to find. The need to concentrate.



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