Friday, 16 September 2011

Leslie Kaye: Black Magic and more

Byndan III Winged Presence 1975-6 © Leslie Kaye
Detail Byndan III Winged Presence 1975-6 © Leslie Kaye 
Every once in a while I'll encounter an image that is so powerful that words fail me. Writing about Hannelore Baron and Judith Scott was difficult because their work filled me with such wonder that words were superfluous. Leslie Kaye's textile Byndan III Winged Presence has the same effect. Byndan III is made of 28 pounds of wrapped wool that is stitched together and its dimensions (86" X 44" X 8") and irregular shape command attention. Made early in her art career, it is reminiscent of the forms and female subject matter from Magdalena Abakanowicz's Abakan series.

Leslie Kaye was an artist, designer, social activist, wife, mother, and more. A year ago, cancer cut short her vibrant life. Black Magic and more is a retrospective exhibit of textiles from her early career right up to a year ago, just before she died. Her work is on view at First Unitarian Church of Hamilton, located at 170 Dundurn Street South until September 25. An opening reception will be held tonight from 7 pm to 11 pm.
fragment #6: jacob's ladder 2002 © Leslie Kaye
Detail fragment #6: jacob's ladder 2002 © Leslie Kaye 
Leslie's mom taught her how to sew and her dad taught her how to knit. Other than parental instruction and a quilting class called Five Easy Pieces, she was self-taught. It was during the class that she realized her deep appreciation for black, so she made her first quilt in five shades of black and went forward from there. Leslie had a knack for integrating unlikely materials and techniques into her quilts, like fibreglass screening, felt, satin, and lace knitting, and making it work brilliantly. Fibreglass screening softens the high contrast of the black quilts against stark white walls, so that the wall becomes part of the quilts. The quiet, elegant quilts with a tease of colour engage the viewer. You can read about the exhibit here and can listen to an interview with Leslie Kaye and Lorraine Roy here.
fragment #3: through a glass darkly 2002 © Leslie Kaye
Detail  fragment #3: through a glass darkly 2002 © Leslie Kaye

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