By Laurelle Walsh
Photographer Teri Pieper captures images of the natural world in black and white; weaver Katie Swanson fashions deeply textured, vibrant textiles; and wood-turner Don McIvor causes wood to imitate time-altered clay vessels in a new show at the Winthrop Gallery: “Tactile, Tangible, Tonal.”
The show opens today (May 28) with an artists’ reception to be held at the gallery on Saturday (May 31) from 5 – 7 p.m.
“The theme we chose unites our work,” said McIvor. “I think viewers will recognize an exploration of tones and textures — the tangible connection — inherent in all three bodies of work.”
The darks, lights and grays that we see in a black and white photograph are called “tones.” Pieper takes familiar subjects — an aspen grove, balsamroot flowers, bluebells — and reveals their shapes and forms by removing all color. She leaves light, shadow and line, creating starkly beautiful images reminiscent of the Group f/64 greats.
In fact some of Pieper’s approaches, though done digitally rather than on film, draw on the darkroom techniques of her predecessors.
“Using Lightroom [photo editing software], I was able to mimic many darkroom techniques including dodging and burning and the use of colored filters … to lighten or darken different areas of the photos,” Pieper said. “Also, like in the days of the darkroom, I made many test prints before coming up with my final prints for this show.”
All of Pieper’s images are black-and-white archival prints on hot press natural paper. They are simply mounted with off-white mats and black frames, and vary in size from 12-by-12 inches to 20-by-24 inches.
Swanson brings vibrant colors and touchable textures into the show using a variety of yarns to create woven towels, scarves and shawls. One-of-a-kind rugs are woven from selvage material she buys from Pendleton Woolen Mills.
“I find I have two different ways I might approach a new project: either from the desire to try a new technique, as in the doubleweave towels, or to use certain materials, as in my hand-spun yarn,” Swanson said.
Using the technique called doubleweave, Swanson is able to weave two layers of cloth at the same time. Two different shades of cotton create towels with different colors on each side, she calls “Tonal Towels.”
After she had spun a quantity of luxurious yarn last fall from some unusual fibers — merino, bamboo and silk — Swanson began planning her “Handspun Wraps.” She wanted to use the sumptuous yarn for weaving rather than knitting, she said, and ended up producing several elegant-yet-snuggly shawls that measure 22-by-80 inches — just right for draping over the shoulders.
“These have a lovely soft drape and hand, and would serve well as a shawl for a cool Methow evening, or to snuggle up in at home,” Swanson said.
Chunks of maple, holly, walnut, apple, cedar and mora (a finely textured Guatemalan hardwood), become pots, boxes and bowls at the hands of McIvor and his lathe. Add the effects of slow drying on green wood and you get vessels that imitate the look of centuries-old Native American pottery.
“For this show I chose to produce a series of pieces inspired by forms that originated with various Native American cultures,” McIvor said. “With one exception, all of the forms that inspired me were created by potters 800-1,500 years ago in the American Southwest.”
McIvor turned each piece to completion in one session and then allowed the vessels to dry slowly, permitting them to deform in whatever manner the inherent stresses in the wood dictated, he said.
“This approach creates forms that are no longer round — many look surprisingly oblong — but this helps create the impression of hand-formed pottery. Additionally, this green turning process inevitably leads to stress cracks in the wood, and I took the opportunity to inlay turquoise into some of these cracks, further connecting the pieces with another iconic element of the desert Southwest” McIvor said.
These works may be viewed at the Winthrop Gallery, 237 Riverside Ave., through July 7. The gallery is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. For more information call 996‑3925 or go to the gallery’s website, www.winthropgallery.com.