Loom: The Tandem Tapestries of David Johnson and Geary Jones

The collaborative tapestries by David Johnson and Geary Jones explode with riotous color and pattern, reminiscent of works by Austrian artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Each of the artists has included a few pieces of their own, and it’s a luxury to have these juxtaposed with the collaborative tapestries, because you can see how their independent sensibilities contributed to the final product.

Meltdown, tapestry by David Johnson and Geary Jones

Meltdown, tapestry by David Johnson and Geary Jones

Comparing the works of the two, Jones seems to be the yang to Johnson’s yin–or the Oscar Madison to Johnson’s Felix Unger. Jones’ contributions are tiny and fierce–each no taller than 14″, layered with pattern and images, employing colors that are freely mixed and seem intuitively selected. Jones’ expressive weavings are so tightly woven that they appear to buckle, nearly ready to explode. Bolted between thick acrylic, one has the impression that the presentation is pragmatic, to protect the viewer from injury in case a warp string snaps.

The pieces from Johnson’s Echo series are neatly woven medium-scale works (approx. 2′ x 5′), that look like a hybrid of Navajo textiles and Joseph Albers color studies. Like Bauhaus prototypes, each has an assigned number, rather than a descriptive title. They’re flat, uniform in size, and display complex and nuanced color schemes.

2012X, tapestry by David Johnson and Geary Jones

2012X, tapestry by David Johnson and Geary Jones

A loom is the frame structure used to secure a woven textile while its being made, but the word also means something immanent that’s undefined and foreboding. Jones’ and Johnson’s tandem tapestries include implicit messages regarding the environment, war, and willful cultivation of ignorance. The inclusion of symbolism has a long tradition in textiles from many cultures including Navajo textiles, Kilim, and Persian rugs. Sometimes the symbolism has spiritual or cultural significance, but there are also examples in which coded symbols are political— a means to express resistance or defiance.

Fiberx2 is the only piece to include text. A large black “X” sprawls across the composition, the anarchy symbol is included adjacent to schematized human figures inspired by Neolithic paintings, and the number “2012” in this context, looks a lot like an “EXIT” sign. In the lower right-hand corner, portraits of the artist flank a small placard that reads,”aint this tapestry beautiful”. Synergy offers an aerial view of a fantastic landscape featuring man-made structures including a tower that may be a lighthouse, minaret, or the Tower of Babel. Worlds in Collision looks something like a pixelated interior, with a window open to a celestial sky. Meltdown resembles a map of the world overlaid with patterns that suggest an apocryphal war plan, or an esoteric economic diagram.

Fiberx2 is coordinated to overlap with Extreme Fibers: Textile Icons and the New Edge, curated by Jones at the Muskgeon Museum of Art.

-Tamara Fox

Fiberx2: Tapestry Collaborations by David Johnson and Geary Jones
August 21 – September 26
Lowell Arts149 South Hudson Street, Lowell, MI 49331
Hours: Tues-Fri 10AM-6PM and Sat 1-4PM
Admission is free

Extreme Fibers: Textile Icons and the New Edge, through November 1, 2015
Muskegon Museum of Art
296 W. Webster Avenue Muskegon, Michigan 49440
Hours:   Sun., 12-4:30PM, Wed.,10AM-4:30PM, Thurs.,10AM-8PM, Fri., Sat., 10AM-4:30PM
Admission:   Adults $7, Students (with school I.D.) $5, Free for members and children under 17

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