C. Pazia Mannella & Tamsen Wojtanowski: Inside Voices TITLE MAGAZINE Posted: April 24th, 2014 By Deborah Krieger
At Napoleon Gallery
Through April 25
Inside Voices, at first glance, might seem to be made up of rather disparate media: black and white photography by Tamsen Wojtanowski and textiles by C. Pazia Mannella. Yet the closer I looked, the more I was able to see visual cues and connections between such different types of works. Stringing those cues together, I was able to see Inside Voices as a meditation on memory. While Wojtanowsi’s photographs create the visual representation of memory, Mannella’s textiles play with the tactile feeling of memory, indicating her more hands-on approach to remembrance and nostalgia.
The highlight and centerpiece is Golden, a hanging yellow mass of crocheted ribbon by Mannella. While this work may seem at first glance to be harder to relate to the other pieces in this room of nostalgia and half-remembered images, upon looking at the other works through Golden’s web, it became clear that this work is the lens through which we are meant to look at the other pieces. When I looked through the netting it rendered the works blurry and hazy, as if I were picturing an image in the back of my mind and struggling to bring it to the forefront and into focus. Golden is the vehicle of remembrance in this show.
Force, also by Mannella, a floor installation consisting of embroidered fabric held inside a rectangular wooden frame, was notable due to its placement. At first, it made me think of a sandbox—that ultimate bastion of childhood memory. The way it is framed seems so familiar, yet it is boxed in—like the confines of memory, the limits of our ability to call forth things we are trying to remember.
When we struggle to remember things, we might close our eyes in concentration while points of light flicker and glow beneath our closed lids. I/You/We, a collection of gelatin prints by Wojtanowski, appears to be an illustration and extension of this phenomenon, conjuring up the light round dots swimming in the black space of the inside of our eyelids. Taken together with Golden, it is an image evocative of reminiscence.
The other works by Wojtanowski hearken back to ideas of memory much more explicitly. Home and home, two black-and-white stills, imbue the images of places and events with a tender, nostalgic quality. home, a digital archive print, presents the side of a clapboard house with a smattering of swaying flowers, while Home, a silver gelatin print, depicts Wojtanowsi’s partner and their dog caught in two antiparallel lines of movement. The similar titles reference both kinds of ways that Wojtanowski finds herself at home, both in the literal sense in home, and in the metaphorical, emotional sense with those close to her in Home.
The final connection between these two sets of works by Wojtanowski and Mannella is the repeated use of plant and floral motifs. Trace, a watercolor and embroidery on silk by Mannella, appears to be both a faintly-rendered pair of arms and a back from behind. Yet the texture is reminiscent of a tree trunk, which is echoed by the pattern and texture of the yellow fabric in Golden, and is carried on to finality by the repeated black-and-white tree imagery of Untitled (birds) by Wojtanowski. These works can be taken in one sweep across the gallery and it is visually satisfying to make that connection. Additionally, Untitled (birds)’s repetition of the same photograph of trees functions as a visual representation of trying to remember something—even as you try to go further back in your mind, you are met with the same repeated image, repeated memory, as you try to trace your steps back.
Every new angle in Inside Voices reveals a series of visual and thematic connections. It is as if Wojtanowski and Mannella are in dialogue: the former arguing for the importance of visual memory, while the latter presents tactile memory as equally important. The two artists are conversing in a language of memory that they share, using their “inside voices.”
Deborah Krieger is a student at Swarthmore College studying art history, with interests in foreign languages, film and media studies, and making art. She writes her own arts blog, I On the Arts and is interested in going into curatorial work or into arts and culture criticism.
Discovering the Space Between: C. Pazia Mannella and Tamsen Wojtanowski An essay by Jillian Matthews
As the stars illuminate and move through a dark sky as night falls or a summer breeze rustles the delicate petals of a flower in bloom, memories of experiences are not static, but constantly shifting. As time passes, perspectives change; memories evolve, or simply fade away. Artists Tamsen Wojtanowski and C. Pazia Mannella capture the ephemerality of memory in their shared exhibition at NAPOLEON, Inside Voices. Each piece included in the exhibition functions as a visual autobiography by which both Tamsen and Pazia express their intimate accounts of the everyday. Both artists have unfolded their internal lives and intimate relationships and have reflectively responded to collecting various ephemera from exchanges with their respective companions. These private archives serve as a source of inspiration and discovery and range from thoughtfully written letters to spontaneous photos shared via text. Though the two bodies of work on exhibit are distinctly different, each artist explores universal notions of love, longing, uncertainty, and commitment. Inside Voices shows a dichotomy that reflects on the comforts of domesticity and the beauty of sharing your daily life with another, but also the fear of an unknowable future, and the fleeting nature of recollection.
Our memories are precious because they provide us with a link to the past, to knowledge and meaning. Today we frequently attempt to preserve a moment by snapping a photo on our camera phones or sharing personal experiences through social media outlets. However, our most intimate memories are often those that affect us most deeply. Philosopher John Sutton initiates a discourse on the role of memory in our daily lives stating “Remembering is often suffused with emotion, and is closely involved in both extended affective states such as love and grief, and socially significant practices such as promising and commemorating” (Sutton). Our recollections of love and loss, our experiences of personal and collective events, our sentimental longing for home, all continually form our perspectives on the present. Time quickly passes us by, and we are left to decipher the sometimes ambiguous residue that it leaves behind.
Tamsen Wojtanowski’s series of Photograms titled “I/You/We” considers a yearning for a sense of home and the physical absence of her partner. Gazing into the night sky, stars pierce through the darkness. With each night, configurations of constellations shift into new views. It takes years for even the closest star’s light to reach the earth. Every night as we look up into a clear sky, we share in the history of the universe, both together and alone. Wojtanowski calls on the paradox of this shared experience by visually closing the physical distance between the artist and her partner in her series. By employing an antique printing process called Cliché Verre, Latin for “glass picture”, the artist creates a handmade negative. The technique involves carefully painting the glass and then exposing it to light. The light penetrates the unpainted portions creating the final print, known as a Photogram. Using this intuitive process the artist reinvents the private letters exchanged between her and her partner. Wojtanowski creates a pattern based on the unique locations of only the words “I”, “You” and “We” penned in each of the letters. The resulting Photogram dissolves into darkness, revealing only the “light” of the words I, You and We. What emerges from this process is veiled and mysterious, a kind of unbreakable semantic code. Each individual print maintains the intimate scale of the original letters, but functions as a pixel in a larger image. The installation of the series standing 5 feet high and 5 feet wide is a unified presence in the small scale of the NAPOLEON Gallery. The piece evokes the essence of the vacuous beauty of the cosmos, but also underscores the mystery of what lies ahead and the volatility of memory itself.
Standing apart from this series are also two photographs, both aptly titled “home” and “Home”, drawing the viewer back into the seemingly mundane routines of the everyday. The artist offers abbreviated and sometimes voyeuristic glimpses into her private domestic environments. However, with little context the images are ambiguous and pose questions regarding place and time, blurring the lines between moment and memory. Wojtanowski’s body of work reflects on both the anticipation and vulnerability of a growing relationship and the longing for physical and psychological refuge in a chaotic world. When viewed collectively the pieces transport the viewer to that liminal space between the past and the more recent present.
Perception and time are central concepts in the material-based work of C. Pazia Mannella. Her floor installation titled “Force” recalls the beauty of an urban garden contained- a meticulously manicured natural oasis in the midst of a harsh concrete city. Mannella’s unnatural garden “grows” from the center of the gallery floor contained within a large wooden flower box. At first glance Mannella’s painterly garden appears to be a delightful installation juxtaposed against the stark white walls of the gallery. However, the embroidered blooms belie the fact that these vibrant flowers could never exist harmoniously in nature.
Mannella, who has taken a strong interest in horticulture considers the practice of forced blooming, a process in which plants are grown in greenhouses and forced to bloom prior to their natural growth cycles. By subverting our notions of “natural” beauty, the artist initiates a dialogue about our voracious desire for the harmony and tranquility of the natural world and the tensions which lie just beneath the surface of this yearning.
Similar to artist Tamsen Wojtanowski’s body of work, Mannella’s work fluctuates between the tangible and the ethereal with her piece titled “Trace”. A panel of white silk, printed with a subtle light blue watercolor quietly hangs from the wall at the back of the gallery. A ghostly, corporal image seems to emerge from the silk in the likeness of two arms clasped together, one seemingly vanishing from sight. Faint white embroidery can be seen carefully defining edges, and then it too fades away into the folds of the silk. The haunting quality of the print reminds us of the fading light of memory as time passes and our sometimes futile attempts to preserve it.
Inside Voices oscillates between the commonplace and the otherworldly, between the idyllic and the weight of an uncertain future. It provides a striking visual contrast between the enigmatic imagery presented in Wojtanowski’s black and white prints and photographs and the rich textures and vibrant colors woven throughout Mannella’s embroidered textiles. The pairing of the works calls the viewer to the threshold that exists between tangible realities and the dreamlike quality of memories. The artists each reflected on their own personal archives, laying bare the complex relationships between the past, the present. Inside Voices provokes questions about what it means to remember, while living in a fast paced and often transient contemporary world. In an age where we have the capability to record our daily lives at our finger tips and the access to massive amounts of digital memory, forgetting may not be our greatest fear, but perhaps it is the fear of being forgotten by the ones we love most.
Mannella, C. Pazia. Artist Interview. 22 February 2014.
Sutton, John, "Memory", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/memory/>.
Wojtanowski, Tamsen. Artist Interview. 22 February 2014.
About the Author:
Jillian Matthews is an artist and designer. She received her MFA in Jewelry and Metals from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013. She currently lives in Philadelphia and works as an Installation Design Assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For more information please visit http://www.behance.net/JillianMatthews.
NAPOLEON is a collectively-run project space that strives to provide a platform for new work and new ideas.
Students learn the fibers of fashion Bodywear Construction offers students a class to examine fashion. by Alexa Bricker 02 December 2013
Tiffany Monahan’s passion lies in fashion and its role in art, but she’d never had the ability to enroll in a class focusing on the subject until this semester when Tyler School of Art established a course entitled Bodywear Construction.
“I have a strong passion for fashion design, and it is the only class at Tyler that offers something that seemed satisfying to me,” Monahan, a junior visual studies major, said.
Though listed as a typical fibers elective, Bodywear Construction is unique to Tyler in that no other course allows students to create wearable art, let alone explore concepts of using the human body and art.
Bodywear Construction, taught by fibers and material studies interim program head Pazia Mannella, is designed to allow students to explore the cultural meaning behind fashion and the body’s role in that process. It also provides an opportunity for art students who are interested in fashion, but not necessarily in studying it full-time, to learn more about the topic.
“We discuss fashion in relation to its relationship to social and political history,” Liza Buzytsky, a fibers MFA student and teaching assistant for the course, said. “I think this class is a slightly subversive stab at poststructuralist theory, semiotics and critical theory, introducing these ideas without overwhelming students with heavy terminology.”
Tyler does not have a fashion major or any fashion-specific courses. Students taking Bodywear Construction said having the ability to tie art and fashion design together is important.
“I love discussing elements of fashion in this class because most of my peers are conceptual artists rather than fashion-minded, and hearing their perspective is very beneficial,” Monahan said. “The course has definitely caused me to be more resourceful and think of bodywear as something that can be created from anything, like sculpture.”
Though art is already highly interconnected with fashion, Buzytsky said discussing greater concepts and interpretation is one of the more important aspects of the class.
“In addition to introducing me to several artists and pioneer industry leaders I was not aware of, the class has widened my perspective on creative methods,” Buzytsky said. “It is not a traditional fashion class that focuses on technique and construction. It encourages alternative and creative approaches to making something, very much in a sculptural vein, which is my background.”
While both Mannella and students said the class expands upon fashion and its relation to the body, they said it is not simply a course about fashion design.
“The wearables we make are not for setting trends or creating things a specific group would want to buy, but we do discuss the role of fashion,” Monahan said. “We touch on many aspects of art: photography, performance, body architecture, all dealing with the body. The focus is more about the effect different textiles, designs and materials have on the body and how they can be used to convey a deeper message.”
Mannella said her reason for proposing the course to the department was so Tyler could offer a class that opens students’ minds to the creation of wearable art and how that industry will change over time.
“Bodywear has the ability to change the wearer into another being,” Mannella said. “It expresses bold emotion and explosive creativity. Students will be encouraged to break from the trend of universal uniformity and think beyond the idea that only fabric can be used to make garments.”
The class is only offered as an elective, but students said they hope for expansion of the course foundations offered at Tyler.
“Tyler should offer a major or a minor based on this class, or at the very least more levels,” Monahan said. “I love my interest in fashion, but the thought of conceptual bodywear is much more fascinating and I would love to have a deeper understanding of it.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor tests effects of environment with art by Alexa Bricker 12 November 2013
“Swell,” an outdoor exhibit by fiber and material studies professor Pazia Mannella, is on display at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences.
Pazia Mannella isn’t afraid of exposing her artwork to the elements – her exhibit and latest work, “Swell,” will be displayed outdoors. She said she is excited to see the effects of weather and the transitions it inspires in her mixed-media piece.
Shying away from traditional methods, the fiber and material studies professor at Tyler has combined her experience in sculpture and fibers to create “Swell,” which is on display now until spring 2014 at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences’ sculpture garden.
Having the ability to use alternative materials and her fascination with adornment is something that gives her work that added uniqueness, Mannella said.
“Moving away from traditional cotton, silk and yarn material allows me to have a larger dialogue within fine art language,” she added.
Mannella’s creation is a woven fiber creation meant to highlight the naturally occurring shapes and color interactions on a beach. Though Mannella said the piece was not originally intended for its current site, she was able to rework her sculpture, a 20-foot structure, by using influence from the coastal environment of Long Beach Island.
Mannella said she initially envisioned her artwork being hung for display purposes.
“I was thinking about the role of drape, and originally the piece was meant to be suspended,” she said. “I introduced metallic beads while it was suspended, but it really weighed the work. That also helped determine the new site.”
Moving the piece from the air to the ground also solidified her choice of materials, she said. Adding to the quality of the piece, Mannella crocheted the materials entirely by hand.
“I used flagging tape, typically used in construction,” she said. “It’s bright because it’s usually used to mark off areas, and it’s quite strong because of its use outdoors.”
The bright blue tape is draped and woven, reminiscent of ocean waves crashing on the shore at a beach.
“The piece really angulates based on its construction, so I was really reflecting on the movement of ocean waves and, in the same respect, the nature of drapery and the textile nature of the piece,” Mannella said.
With the exhibit outside, Mannella said she is most curious to see how the effects of weather will come into play.
“I was interested in having a synthetic work displayed outdoors and its reaction to the elements,” she added.
Particularly in light of Hurricane Sandy’s recent anniversary, Mannella said natural disasters were a concern she had when contemplating the exhibit. She said she hopes a storm of that magnitude will not occur during the piece’s display, particularly with the duration of the exhibit in mind.
Despite the risks, Mannella said she anticipates an interesting process to watch. The site is also a personal one for her.
“I have been going to [Long Beach Island] for the past few years on family vacations and I feel very nostalgic about it,” Mannella said. “Through the disposable base of those materials, I think that also speaks to the momentary experience of cheap toys and plastics you tend to acquire at the beach.”
While the creation is a personal one for her, Mannella said she does not believe everyone should have the same interpretation of the work. Her exhibit is a contemporary artistic endeavor that should inspire a dialogue and different perceptions.
Mannella said she would prefer viewers to bring their own experiences and ideas to the table while contemplating “Swell.”
“Aesthetically, I’m always interested in how the viewer reacts to the work, but I’m not extremely interested in having content that the viewer has to get,” she said. “I think it is unusual to come upon something so large in scale that is a textile process, but I think the viewer can enter in through the intensity of color and the playfulness of the metallic beads.”
For Mannella, the process of using her own tastes and creativity to reflect a bigger picture is what she said is the driving force of much of her work, including this piece.
“I believe the emotion and labor of the maker can be translated to the [work],” Mannella said. “My artistic intention is to evoke excitement and emotion by subverting the mundane.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at email@example.com.
Swinkels, Dorothé. “Signalement.” Textiel Plus May 2011.
Donohoe, Victoria. "Putting It On." The Philadelphia Inquirer 10 Sept. 2010.
Putting It On link
C. Pazia Mannella offers a fresh viewpoint on everyday experience in her found-object sculptures at St. Joseph's University. Her sophisticated wearables owe their strength to the broadening concept of what constitutes art today, which has resulted in a resurgence of handcrafts.
This Pittsburgh native, who now teaches at Temple's Tyler School of Art, wants her decorative abstractions to contain a good deal of human experience. One of her work's great strengths is its skillful interweaving of two themes - what's socially commonplace and what's personal among the materials she uses.
Substantial 3-D pieces that capture her natural strengths and gifts include an attractive long scarf she made from machine-sewed zippers, neck pieces from machine-sewn coffee filters stained with colored inks, and take-a-number tickets lovingly trimmed and combined with crocheted thread. Hers is a cultivated, meticulous, unhedging vision definitely worth watching.
McCutcheon, Lauren. “Artists In Residence” Philadelphia: Home Fall/Winter 2009: 71-77.
Fallon, Roberta. “Outside In: Fleisher/Ollman’s Winter Show Features Enterprising Work” Philadelphia Weekly 24 Dec. 2008.
Newhall, Edith. “A Deceptive Quiet at Fleisher/Ollman’s Invitational Show.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 21 Dec. 2008.
Now in its sixth year, the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery's open invitational exhibition has become this city's most anticipated roundup of the young and talented. It's the kind of rigorously organized, exciting survey of emerging area artists that all galleries and local museums should be aspiring to.
This December's iteration, "You Open So Late, You Close So Early," which features no videos - or any pieces involving sound, for that matter (except for a gently whirring plate and a fan in two sculptures) - strikes a more contemplative mood than its predecessors. The calmness is also the result of the show's installation, which allows more physical distance between works than previous invitationals have.
It's become unusual not to hear some noise in a show of contemporary art, you realize - but the quiet here is deceptive. There is a lot of bite and attitude in this show, and it accumulates strength as you walk through it, slowly savoring each artist's contributions.
Nick Paparone, an artist who has been showing sprawling, deliberately trashy sculpture installations of all-American debris at Vox Populi, looks better than ever in this show with his more distilled efforts, The Long Now (2008), a swirling, motor-operated plate of painted-plaster eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon against a laminated poster backdrop of outer space, and The Philosopher (2008), a fan-inflated sculpture of joined plastic bags arising from a cardboard carton like a jack-in-the-box and covered with vinyl decals of blue eyes. If this sounds over the top, then you missed Paparone's recent installation at Vox.
Hyper-realist drawing has been back in style for a while, after a 30-plus-year hiatus, and it looks entirely new in the hands of Mark Stockton, who plucks his subjects from the tabloid news of the past - Patty Hearst, Pete Rose, Arnold Schwarzenegger - and renders them with the utmost precision, transforming them into misunderstood, media-maligned action heroines and heroes.
The artist-brother team of Steven and Billy Dufala stand out as well with their creepy, distorted sculpture of a huge oak sledge-hammer handle inserted into a tiny steel head, and their digitally altered photograph of a Converse sneaker that stretches it into a long, coiling, snakelike form.
C. Pazia Mannella, an artist who was completely new to me, contributed works that put the dots on the i's, in case the intense, outsidery nature of this particular invitational hadn't already sunk in. Mannella's Your Grace (2008), a serpentine floor sculpture of zippers, fabric and thread, is a descendant of such icons of kink as Nancy Grossman's leather masks of the early 1970s, but sweeter and more toylike, with none of Grossman's obvious figurative references.
Having seen so many diverting video and film pieces in past invitationals, it struck me that this show would have benefited from the presence of an artist working with moving images. The monotonous sounds of Paparone's endlessly swirling plate and fan are unnerving in this unusually still show. But maybe that's the point.
"You Open So Late, You Close So Early" also includes works by David Clayton, Charles Hobbs, Nick Lenker, Josh Rickards, Shawn Thornton and Alex Lukas.
Tiger, Caroline. “New Salons: Homes Are Where the Art Is.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 17 Oct. 2008.
Grady, Elizabeth. semi essay Apr. 2008.