This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2010 - "Traces of Time and Presence" features the work of this year's artists-in-residence at Craft Alliance in Grand Center: Erin Vigneau Dimick in fibers, Tom Dykas in clay and Michael Parrett in metals. It's a quiet show, with works in different media that hang well together, forging subtle thematic and formal connections.
Vigneau Dimick works with wardrobe ephemera such as vintage handkerchiefs and dainty white gloves with buttons and beads. Onto these she stitches lines of text that meditate on female rituals and experience. "I Got It!" has a giddy narrative about a girl's first period sewn onto a 50s-style sweater and skirt ensemble; the "Mother Said Series" features ambivalent adages and advice ("Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?") sewn onto handkerchiefs. Vigneau Dimick's works reveal the central and parallel roles played by language and garments in negotiating one's social identity.
Parrett makes extraordinarily beautiful faux archeological finds that project a future past. Many of his pieces are electroformed copper versions of plastic containers; one neckpiece is fashioned out of actual salvaged plastic lids that might be mistaken for precious metal. Parrett has a keen sensibility for materials and forms, transforming the detritus of consumer culture into ruins that appear to have descended from another planet. His work neither condemns nor celebrates post-consumer waste, but rather recontextualizes it, allowing for a fresh reconsideration of what we produce, how we live, and what we leave in our wake.
Dykas paints fragile, translucent images on stoneware, referencing Chinese ink painting and deep sea biology. Formally, Dykas' creamy stoneware and thin paints nod to the milky palette of Vigneau Dimick's garments, while his subjects pick up the archeological themes in Parrett's art.
Ivy Cooper, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon art critic.