When people think of oil tanks, rusty old tanks usually come to mind. Leave it to welder turned artist Cal Lane to take a simple oil tank and transform it into a giant doily. This was one of many art pieces displayed at Lace in Translation.
Lace In Translation is a new exhibit presented by the Design Center at the University of Philadelphia. The exhibit showed complementary work that explored and incorporated simple hand craftsmanship modern mass production.
“I came because my family is in the fiber business. It’s interesting to see what could be done with simple fabric,” Joy Schneider, exhibit observer, said.
The Design Center’s historic Quaker Lace Company collection inspired the three internationally-know artists to reconsider their thinking of conventional lace.
The Design Center showcases lace in many forms, from a handwoven grass curtain to a lace chain-link fence.
Dutch artist Demarkersan designed the fence. It outlined the entire front yard of the Design Center. Demarkersvan has created pieces for Hugo Boss as well as Swarovski.
A short film shown at the exhibit explores the history of the Quaker Lace Company and its role in transforming lace from luxury product to a mass market consumable. The film features historic footage of Quaker Lace being manufactured, the designers’ contemporary production techniques and interviews with the designers and curators.
One artist whose work was on display in the exhibit was European designer Tord Boontje. In the black gallery, Boontje displayed his greatest design, his sofa made from different fibers and powder-coated steel.
“My favorite piece here would have to be the sofa. The detail the artist put in is incredible. It’s astonishing,” Erin Schneider, exhibit observer, said.
In the gold gallery, Boontje displays 10 different light fixtures made from raffia and grass. Necklaces and bracelets were also showcased in a case in the gallery, designed by Boontje. In this gallery, a video was shown on the wall of a young woman spinning in circles clothed in a dress made of grass.
The next gallery was the white room. Displayed in this room was a handmade raffia lace curtain. This covered the entire window. In cases around the room were raffia lace samples, handmade raffia bobbin lace and linen, all designed by Tord Boontje. The walls contained pictures of Boontje in his studio crafting these delicate lace patterns.
One of the greatest attractions of the exhibit was the oil tank in the backyard of the Design Center. As mentioned earlier, Canadian artist Cal Lane assembled the tank. The 600-pound oil tank was displayed upon a grand piano-shaped swimming pool. Lane previously worked as a welder and today uses her torch to cut doilies and baroque patterns into everyday objects such as wheelbarrows, dumpsters and shovels.
“I didn’t know it was possible to sculpt a design into an oil tank. I didn’t think that was possible,” Jake Verterano, senior communication major, said. “I guess you really can make art out of anything.”
Lace In Translation will be on display until April 3rd at the Design Center at the University of Philadelphia.
“After visiting the exhibit I learned that lace isn’t just a type of fiber but an industrial art and a profession for artists around the world,” Michelle Costa, sophomore communication major, said.