Polly Barton: Dialogues with the Beast

Santa Fe, NM– Chiaroscuro is pleased to present a solo exhibition for Santa Fe based textile artist Polly Barton titled, Dialogues with the Beast, from July 5 – August 3, 2024, with opening public reception with the artist, Friday July 5 from 5-7pm. As a contemporary artist working with textile the exhibition brings together her most recent body of work, with abstract imagery and vibrant color, in large and small scale ikat weavings.

Barton explains:

“These are dialogues in ikat – my chosen medium— intertwining color and threads, giving life to imagery with my desire for color, pattern, texture, movement, and shifts. Ikat has become my embodied language; my way of processing and understanding these turbo-charged times. I take unreachable, unspeakable, intangible thoughts and weave a response in silk, paper and pigments.”

Polly Barton is a nationally recognized artist who has been working in textile for over thirty years and is known for adapting the ancient Japanese weaving technique of ikat tying and dyeing into contemporary woven imagery. Dialogues with the Beast is a special exhibition, as Barton has pushed herself into new territory by employing new materials and processes into her practice.

“Painting and layering unfamiliar and raw materials directly onto thread brings forth the veils of color with pigments, stains, glazes, blurs, globs that are necessary in these conversations. There is precision in this technique yet the translation is raw, my gesture unscripted. Nothing is clean and clear. The tension of encountering a stranger within is central to my new work and I have found a new enthusiasm.”

Barton approaches each piece as a dialog with materials, process and her ideas, working on multiple pieces at once. The exhibition begins to take shape as months and months of weaving pass by. The dialogue expands and contracts as she works through the labor intensive process of shuttling thin strains of uniquely dyed silk and spun paper into the whole. Barton explains, “Each work in this show embodies more than I may wish to speak of. They embody emotions, history, gesture and a multitude of voices.”

Polly Barton studied Art History at Barnard College and has lived and traveled in Paris, Florence, Rome and India. Formative for the young artist was working as a personal assistant to Helen Frankenthaler. In 1981 she moved to Kameoka, Japan to study with master weaver, Tomohiko Inoue, living in the religious heart of Oomoto Foundation.

Barton continues to weave on her Japanese tsumugi silk kimono looms and shows her woven ikat paintings widely. The majority of her materials and media come from Japan, and an experimental attitude embodies her artistic practice. Her work has been collected by the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others. She is widely published including Hali Magazine, Fiber Arts, Surface Design Journal and American Craft. Barton is a member of the Textile Society of America and other textile organizations in the US, including locally, Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center.

This is Barton’s second solo exhibition at Chiaroscuro and will include ten new ikat weavings presented in the main downstairs gallery at 558 Canyon Road. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10am – 5pm, and the exhibition will be on view for 4 weeks.