Born and raised in Metro Detroit, artist Margo Wolowiec has returned to the city after building her practice in Chicago and San Francisco. Taking Over is her first solo exhibition with Library Street Collective.
Essential to Wolowiec’s work is the relationship between weaving and computing. The Jacquard loom, which helped spur on the Industrial Revolution, used a punch card system that stored and processed complex woven patterns. That punch card system was directly borrowed to store and process information in one of the earliest computers. The binary logic of computing dictates that something is either on or off, a punch in a card or none, a zero or a one. This same logic is present in weaving - a thread is either up or down, under or over, on or off. This link between weaving and computing is central to Wolowiec's practice.
Wolowiec sources images from social media sites and weaves them into complex tapestries using a hand loom, blending contemporary digital trends with the technology of weaving. She finds images by searching hashtags and geotags through social media search engines and finds patterns within the group to help her designate which photos to use. She then transfers the images onto groups of threads through a sublimation dye process. Imperfections and mutations in the image are first created here, as the individual threads move and shift during the printing process. From there she weaves the piece by hand, re-assembling the printed images together and further shifting the imagery. What results is a tactile and seemingly weightless tapestry that speaks to the white noise and static of the contemporary digital mind.
For Taking Over, Wolowiec expands and continues her #rosegarden series. She began the work in early 2017 as a way to process and understand the drastic changes in our current political climate; devastated by the outcome of the presidential election and frustrated by the blurring of fact with fiction. Faced with the prevalence of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, the artist considers the implications of living in a Post-Truth culture.
“I began taking screenshots of news articles from verified and unverified online news media sites and incorporating them into my weavings. I paired these texts with images of roses and flowers collected from the hashtag #rosegarden. The rose acts as a foil for the text from news and media sources, with roses and rose gardens as symbols of beauty and hope but also wealth and power.” She sites the White House Rose Garden as a place for bill signings, public ceremonies, and photo ops, and the phrase ‘rose garden strategy’ referring to an incumbent president using the trappings of the White House for re-election purposes. Throughout art history, roses and flowers have been imbued with meaning, from symbols of fertility; death and mourning; purity or sexual promiscuity; and are often stand-ins for the female body.
“As I have continued to work through this series, the rose garden images have taken more and more prominence in each piece. I like that the florals are creeping in more, as I gradually give them more power and space within the work and push back against the news media texts. I think this is a symbol of my own hope for the future, and for the power and space that women are reclaiming in society. The best end to this year for me personally has been the outpouring of women who are speaking out against the high-profile, powerful men that have sexually abused them. It has been powerful and inspiring, and has given me hope that - despite a particularly bleak year - there is a bright future waiting for everyone.”
Taking Over will be on display from February 3 with an opening reception from 6-8PM, and will run until March 24.