reviews > Durham, NC

5/7/10 7:19 PM

Sometimes distortions provide the truest representations. After all translation, as Ruth Hadlow has written, is an unstable process, one that can’t help but introduce alterations to the original, whatever it may be. The Hadlow reference comes courtesy textile artist Vita Plume, and it is her viscerally moving tapestries that prompt my thinking about the paradoxical nature of distortion. Even a first glance at these dense, intricate works reveals how a stretched and pulled visage can communicate emotions and actions more intensely than a realistically rendered one. This manifests in a piece that evokes contemplative looking, but it is most evident in a work titled “Rage,” where the face of a man has been dyed and woven such that his orange and brown striped skin is also that of an angry tiger, his teeth and lips that of its bared fangs. Closer examination reveals something even stranger, as tightly woven threads seem themselves to possess this intense emotionality, rather than to merely represent it. Further inspection would be too brutal, too risky, with a work so redolent of an emotion like rage.

—Lori Waxman