The exhibition, titled Unexpected Art: Surface design inspired by museum collections, features garments made from fabrics printed with motifs taken from a few museum objects selected by the artist. Each work is accompanied by a paper plaque with the image of a fancy frame, showing a photo of the original object when it was from one of the other two museums, and the artist's statement about it. For objects from HHM, the actual item was displayed alongside the creation it inspired.
|The above is all paper, it just looks like a fancy frame enclosing a plaque.|
Rahn made the motifs into surface design patterns, digitally printed those on fabric, then used the fabric to make garments she designed. The garment designs, as well as the motifs printed on the fabric, reflected Rahn's response to the selected object.
|The paint palette of portrait artist Frances Cranmer Greenman, in the collection of the Hennepin History Museum|
|Dress inspired by Greenman's palette, with a scan of a portion of the palette providing the pattern for the colorful skirt panels.|
It's possible that the polyester was better for printing on with an inkjet printer, which is what she said she used. But on a table displaying printed fabric samples, there were a few squares of cotton, and it looked like they took the ink very nicely. Despite that minor disappointment, I really enjoyed the exhibition and was inspired by it.
I especially appreciated one she called "Glimmer of Green," where she used security envelopes to make paper collages inspired by a semi-surreal painting from TMORA by a dissident artist in the Soviet era, showing a small-town cathedral in Russia, which then became the pattern motif for a fabric that she made into a top.
As she states, the security envelopes relate to the idea that this painting, as well as others that did not conform to official standards, was hidden, secretive.
|Paper collages made with security envelopes and other papers, inspired by the painting Uspenski Cathedral in a Village from the Museum of Russian Art|
The collages themselves could have stood alone as finished artworks, except it appeared that such was not her intention; some of the pieces showed signs of coming detached from the background, and they were not coated or finished.
I'm only showing you a very small sample of the works included and I do encourage you to see the rest of them up close and personal, which is quite possible in an intimate setting such as HHM, relying as they do on "Please do not touch" signs rather than barriers, so you can get really close to the works and related artifacts to examine them in detail.
In the second room, there was a board displaying a lot of doorknobs, some of which had labels identifying which buildings they came from, but most without any identifying labels.
|Detail of some of the doorknobs at HHM. The one on the right is featured in part on the exhibition postcard.|
It's clearly an old object in the museum's collection of Minneapolis artifacts, and I don't recall seeing it on display before.
It's really quite a delight in itself, and I don't recall what she made from these motifs, other than the postcard for the exhibition, and a zippered pouch for sale in the museum shop. Although some of the doorknob motifs may have made their way into this collage, which became another patterned fabric.
After leaving the museum I was walking up the street with my friend Ann, on our way to meet other friends at the Boiler Room coffee shop. As I was admiring the old apartment buildings we passed along the way, Ann commented on the architectural detail in the building facades.
We were both experiencing a renewed awareness of and appreciation for the surface design and motifs all around us, inspired by the explorations of this particular artist.
Unexpected Art is on display through April 30 at the Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis 55404.