The new work by Eleanor Kotlarik Wang is referenced in images and textiles from various world cultures. Domestic objects such as embroidered baby carriers from the Yunnan culture are explored as iconic shapes that seem to open their arms in a protective or welcoming embrace. Folk patterns and stitchery from her Slovak origins become painterly abstracts. Many paintings include hand-stitching fused into the surfaces. In a digital age where high-tech computer manipulations often replace traditional artistic techniques, these paintings reveal the artist’s touch.

July 29 – August 22, 2020

Ribbons Stretching Across the World: Eleanor Kotlarik Wang’s multicultural approach to her latest exhibition, Ribbons of Stretch

Studio Gallery | 2108 R Street NW, Washington DC  20008 | (202) 232-8734

In my view, folk handcrafted items in their many varied forms such as embroideries, ceramics, textiles, or woodwork have a direct connection to the hand and heart of the maker.  The colors or patterns on objects have communal as well as personal connections to the artist’s view of his/her history and community.   Many of these marks are ancient and universal in world cultures.  The dots, lines and cross hatchings create a visual language that has a direct and mysterious connection from the past to the present moment of viewing or touching. 

My paintings are visual responses to forms, textures, colors and symbols from many world cultures.  My love and appreciation for textiles were developed early in life with Slovak embroideries and other folk objects which were displayed and used in my childhood home in Slovakia and later in Chicago.  This appreciation expanded as I came in contact with other cultures  (ancient and contemporary) which placed much emphasis on beauty and adornment of objects of daily use. 

Some of the objects that inspired me are baby carriers from rural Chinese villages.  A skilled person created swaddling cloths for new babies that were born to a local family.  Motifs and colors varied from village to village, but the idea of presenting a new mother and child with a useful, beautiful gift from the village has such a primal sense of love, welcoming and protection that are fundamental in society even today, though it takes many other visual forms.  

My responses to objects were personal and took different directions in the making. Sometimes it was the colors, sometimes, shapes that led me down a road that was unchartered and exploratory.  My grandmother was a tailor and my mother sewed and knit beautifully making her own (and my) clothes for many years.  Leftover buttons and other sewing notions are part of my heritage, and I enjoyed finding ways to incorporate them in the paintings.   The decision to add stitching to my creative vocabulary became extremely satisfying on a personal level.  In each prick and stitch I came to a closer appreciation and connection to the handwork of people (mostly women)  who through the ages left their marks and spirit in objects that were used by their community.