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September 13, 2017 to November 19, 2017



Holly Hanessian • C.Pazia Mannella
Mary Smull • Summer Zickefoose


For centuries, artists have shared their knowledge of techniques and the exploration of craft-based materials through performance. This use of demonstration to impart information is different for artists today who approach the very process of creating an object as the significant aspect of their practice, rendering the resulting object the remains of the processes used to create them. This group exhibition highlights artists who raise questions about crafting objects and their relation to process or performance, asking viewers to participate and take an active role in creating meaning.



Holly Hanessian's installation, Touch in Real Time explores the power of touch at the crossroads of art, emotion and neuroscience. It is a multi-year project that is part social engagement and part scientific research ending in a series of exhibitions. It explores the intimate act of touch and its significance in a digitally mediated age. The project began in the spring of 2012 in Maine at two residencies, the MacNamara Foundation, and the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts. Hanessian repeatedly went to the residents and asked to shake and then hold their hands with clay in it. Each handshake contained a wet piece of clay, imprinting each participant's hand with her own. She held onto their hand for 15-20 seconds, the time it takes for the bonding hormone, oxytocin to be released into the body. Each time, there were stories shared.

In April of 2013, Hanessian went to Pittsburgh and worked at a lab of behavioral neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh as the artist in residence for TREND (The Transdisciplinary Research in Emotion, Neuroscience, and Development). Along with Dr. Greg Siegle, she examined data retrieved from brain image patterns using EEG and fMRI while the handshake was taking place. This information, along with the documentation of her interactions at MacNamara and Watershed, are the basis of the resulting installation.



Contemporary and historical textile patterns, embroidery and garment designs are the inspiration for C. Pazia Mannella's sculptures. Common contemporary materials, zippers, coffee filters, children's barrettes, construction-marking tape, ribbon and mirrored paillattes, are used to mimic the splendor of historical textiles and architectural embellishment. At the PAA, Mannella will present her Give and Receive series, which is a group of garments composed of machine-sewn coffee filters and thread. To complete the sculptures, visitors are invited to try on the pieces. As the artist states, wearing her work allows the viewer to "reflect upon contemporary industrialization and global outsourcing of material processes impacting the environment, as well as the influence of textile and chemical dye polluting and the disposable nature of contemporary fashion and home furnishing industries."



Mary Smull collects unfinished needlepoint projects from online auction sites, thrift stores, and rummage sales, and finishes them - but using only white yarn. Her intervention takes these projects to their intended conclusion structurally, but not visually. The original anonymous maker's accomplishment is thus preserved; the labor they invested is reclaimed. Smull attempts to remind the viewer that the work, whether it be by professional or a hobbyist, will never be fully complete without the viewer's awareness of labor and process.

In addition to finishing unfinished needlepoint, she has formed The Society for the Prevention of Unfinished Needlepoint (SPUN). SPUN is a textile welfare organization dedicated to eliminating the worldwide phenomenon of unfinished needlepoint. Through the SPUN website, members can give away their unfinished needlepoint or pick up an unfinished project to complete. Stories about the origin and history of specific unfinished needlepoint projects can be shared. Based on a social activism model, the SPUN Kiosk event encourages the public to volunteer by learning to needlepoint and stitching white yarn on unfinished needlepoint at the Kiosk, and also to "give". As Smull explains "Despite the humor of SPUN, there is also a very sincere desire to value of the work of anonymous embroiderers, to reclaim their work before it is lost forever to the scrap heap. I hope SPUN can provide a forum to share - with levity - the experience of loss family and friends often feel when an unfinished project exists after the maker has died.



The rural, American landscape is often the setting both literally and figuratively for the work of Summer Zickefoose. For the artist, the landscape represented as type of archaeology, stating "there is the place, its culture, and the objects and materials used by that culture. I believe these objects and materials hold within them a multitude of secrets." Her installations range from ceramics, sculpture, installation, performance, and video. Americana and the art traditions that correspond with it are woven throughout every project. For the project Remaining Cloth,Zickefoose used towels sewn in a white, cotton fabric, which she then treated with wet plaster and hung on a nail-each time the form changing based on how the towel was handled in that action. The towels become physical memories of what would usually be a fleeting moment. Their repetition suggests a series of repeated actions or days, a monotonous chore completed, but yet their changing forms defy that monotony.

Her second project at the PAA, Cockleburs and Pleasantries, is composed of collected porcelain cups re-fired with decals, wood, spices, herbs, various food items, and gathered organic materials.The text on the cups is taken from Midwestern and rural women's diaries, from the 19th Century to present. The artist then asked various women to transcribe each excerpt in their own handwriting. For Zickefoose "the writing continues to represent a multitude of women's experiences suffused through the personality of handwriting. This decorates the surface of the cups, while the interiors are filled with textures, smells, and colors of materials found both in Nature and in the kitchen...The materials and objects in the cups equally represent exterior and interior spaces, while they singularly serve as a suggested counterpart to the sentiment expressed in the text."

Tags: ceramics, fashion, fiber, installation