Amanda McCavour: Inside/OutThread Installations at Virginia MOCA

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Oct 27, 2015 4:03PM

Thread is a part of our everyday lives. We interact with this ordinary material through the clothes we wear and the furniture we sit on. Artists and crafters have also utilized thread throughout art history. Some contemporary artists continue to incorporate this everyday material, often subverting its tradition to create original and engaging works of art.

Toronto-based artist Amanda McCavour documents the world around her by drawing with thread. She suspends delicate thread drawings of domestic objects and organic forms from the ceiling. The resulting installation is light yet feels solid, evoking both the ethereal and profound nature of memory. Two of McCavour’s imaginative installations transform the galleries at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art this fall.  They invite visitors to recall their own memories of home, place and time.

The floating thread installations in the exhibition Amanda McCavour: Inside/Out blend memories and reality to create a fusion of remembered and imagined spaces. McCavour’s desire to establish roots and a home after years of renting temporary living spaces inspired the works in Inside/Out. Entering the first gallery at Virginia MOCA, Floating Garden tempts visitors to explore an expansive garden of multicolored embroidered flowers. Botanical illustrations, embroidered fabrics, historical textiles and time spent in her grandparents’ garden as a child influenced the blossoms. This visual feast of buttercups, English asters and daisies encourages memories of absent aromas, sounds and textures visitors move through the space.

Amanda McCavour: Inside/Out. Installation view at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Photograph by Fresh Look Photography

McCavour suspends the ghost of a former rented living space in the installation Living Room 2. The scene is familiar and welcoming, evoking our own personal recollections of home and past exchanges with friends and family. McCavour’s personal photos and memories helped her to recreate furnishings and personal mementos in thread on a 1:1 scale. McCavour has developed a unique artistic process. She sews into water-soluble material, layering the stitched lines. This allows the thread drawings to remain intact when the material dissolves. McCavour’s background in drawing is evident by the meticulous and detailed imagery she creates. Each installation takes a remarkable amount of time, patience and deliberation.

Amanda McCavour: Inside/Out. Installation view at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Photograph by Glen McClure  

McCavour has expanded the traditional craft of embroidery off the two-dimensional cloth surface and into a three-dimensional space. The originality of her work challenges our preconceived notions of the handicraft as “quaint” and blurs the boundaries between art, craft and design. McCavour continues to push the limits of the medium and her own artistic process through experimentation and incorporation of sculptural elements.

Amanda McCavour holds a BFA in Visual Arts Studio from York University in Toronto, ON and an MFA in Fibers and Material Studies from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. She has exhibited nationally and internationally. McCavour has received numerous grants and awards including the Ontario Society of Artists, The Embroiderers Guild of America and The Surface Design Association. For more information Amanda McCavour: Inside/Out is on view at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art until December 31, 2015.

By Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art 

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art