July 21, 2019
Arts

Cheryl Pope on love, representation and the comfort of textile art

Cheryl Pope
Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

The artist Cheryl Pope says her work has always dealt with vulnerability. But the New York-based artist has taken this to a personal level for the first time by placing her own body in her work. The new series of semi-nudes showing Pope and her partner made with wool roving is now on view in her hometown of Chicago, in the solo show Basking Never Hurt No One at Monique Meloche Gallery (until 17 August).

“Its a direct reflection of my immediate life,” Pope says. “Its really about my responding to what it has been to be in a biracial relationship, how that is moving through the world—the vulnerability of it,” Pope says.

“Story is really being celebrated right now [in art], and Im trying to move within the space between abstraction and narrative,” Pope says. “Too tight of a story remains only my story; if it could be a bit abstract or looser, it could become a story that many people can connect with.”

Cheryl Pope , Woman and Man Reclining on Striped Mat VII (2019)
Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

The heads of Pope and her partner are not visible in her works, which show a tangle of torsos and legs, with a feeling of both zinging energy and comfortable familiarity. The figures are situated on ambiguous, colourful backgrounds—geometric zig-zags, red-and-pink zebra-like irregular stripes, large tropical leaves articulated in yellows and greens—and “youre not sure if this [space] is interior [or] exterior”, Pope says.

“Theres a bit of humour in the way that theyre articulated—theyre playful,” Pope says. Indeed, there is something joyful about the nudes, and the way the bodies are outlined imbues them with a guileless frankness.

Cheryl Pope , Woman and Man Reclining on Striped Mat V (2019)
Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

To make the works, Pope fills in cartoon drawings with pre-dyed wool fibres, which she then punches down with a needle-like tool through a layer of cashmere wool-blend cloth over foam. The wool roving and cloth bind together through this process, which Pope compares to the dreading of hair. “Its still so bodily,” she says of the materials.

Pope attributes the current popularity of textile pieces, to the anxiety and pain of the current moment, and a physical disconnect in grappling with it. Textiles are “the first thing thats wrapped around us when we come out of the womb and its on us every single day," she says. "I think visually were moving towards that because we need a warmth, we need to be loved again, we need that cloth Read More – Source

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