FEBRUARY 5, 2016 – APRIL 23, 2016
This exhibition features installations from two renowned artists who work closely with salvaged trees and bark. Dorothy Gill Barnes manipulates the limbs and bark of trees during their growth cycle. In exciting new work, Dorothy utilizes glass and tree elements to create large scale, suspended necklace forms. In contrast, Dona Look weaves and sews white birch bark with silk thread into elegant, sleek vessel forms.
Dorothy Gill Barnes
Born in Iowa in 1927, and now settled in Ohio, Dorothy Gill Barnes is a veritable geyser of ideas. Well known as a basket maker, she is an equally skilled tree surgeon. Her focus on baskets and wood sculpture grew out her experience as a parent and teacher – drawing, sewing, and weaving with maidenhair ferns on a loom and looking to traditional, functional Native American baskets for inspiration. Gradually, Dorothy began experimenting with stands of trees that were soon to be logged – cutting carving, and drawing on the bark of saplings. These carvings, called dendroglyphs, change quickly as the tree puts on summer growth. When she likes the changes, she will carefully remove and sculpt the bark or whole sections. Friends and colleagues, often students from nearby Ohio University, help with the heavy work of digging and exposing the roots, moving heavy trees to work areas, and organizing materials. This installation is her first foray into large scale work. A Fellow of the American Craft Council since 1999, Dorothy received a Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 from the National Basketry Organization, adding to a dozen prestigious awards. Her works are represented in numerous private collections and in nine museum collections, including Racine Art Museum, Museum of Arts and (formerly American Craft Museum), Renwick Gallery, Christchurch Polytechnic (New Zealand), Ohio Craft Museum, and the Mint Museum
Dona Look has been weaving baskets for the past forty years, finding her materials in the forests of her native Wisconsin. With bark from local birch trees, she weaves baskets and sews them together with silk thread. Dona searches for bark among large, healthy trees that will soon be logged—evaluating the diameter of each tree and the bark’s thickness, its unique markings and flexibility. The body of each piece is often made of bark from one tree. Often the interiors are intricately woven. Collecting must be done in the spring when the sap is running. She peels the dirty outer layer off along with an inner layer to store the pieces flat. Collecting and preparation of birch bark is weather dependent and never easy, but has become increasingly difficult of late. White birch trees, once prevalent in northern Wisconsin forests, are harder to find as the climate changes. Dona has received two fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design (formerly American Craft Museum), Renwick Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the White House Collection, Arkansas Arts Center, Racine Art Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery. This exhibition runs concurrently with Wendy Maruyama: The wildLIFE Project.