Fairfield University Art Museum Presents Norma Minkowitz: Body to Soul

Fairfield University Art Museum Presents Norma Minkowitz: Body to Soul, Jan. 27

Norma Minkowitz, Body to Soul, 2003, Fiber, metal, resin, paint, mirror, crocheted. Museum of Arts and Design, New York; purchased with funds by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, 2004. Photography © Tom Grotta, Courtesy browngrotta arts

Norma Minkowitz, Body to Soul, 2003, Fiber, metal, resin, paint, mirror, crocheted. Museum of Arts and Design, New York; purchased with funds by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, 2004. Photography © Tom Grotta, Courtesy browngrotta arts.

The Fairfield University Art Museum announces a solo exhibition surveying artist Norma Minkowitz’s four-decade engagement with the physical and symbolic properties of thread, on view from Jan. 27 to April 6, 2023.

Fairfield University Art Museum is pleased to present Norma Minkowitz: Body to Soul, a solo exhibition surveying the artist’s four-decade engagement with the physical and symbolic properties of thread, on view from Jan. 27 to April 6, 2023.

Minkowitz reinvents traditional needlework by crocheting fantastical forms, coating them in resin and shellac to create rigid sculptures and hangings. The delicate, mesh-like surfaces of her artwork break down oppositions between soft and hard, inside and outside, body and soul. Broken bodies, birds of prey, shadows, and hints of witchcraft infuse her work with a gothic sensibility that leads from skin to spirit, forcing us to confront the unity between the two.

The poetic title Body to Soul is borrowed from just one of the sculptures on view, but it is a broader theme that reverberates across the exhibition’s selection of more than 30 vessels, sculptures, wall hangings, wearables, and works on paper — including never-before-seen examples from the artist’s studio. Curator Sarah Parrish said, “The figures in Minkowitz’s art appear to be in the process of metamorphosis between one state and another, inspiring viewers to contemplate transformations in their own lives.”

Parrish believes that Minkowitz’s material choice gives her work universal resonance. She explained, “We can easily identify with her art because it is made from fiber — a material that touches us all every day and shares qualities with our own skin.” Minkowitz harnesses these associations to prompt personal reflection among her viewers, but also to subtly provoke dialogue about pressing contemporary social issues, particularly those facing women.

Fairfield University Art Museum Executive Director Carey Weber remarked, “I am so pleased that we are able to present this beautifully curated exhibition, featuring stellar examples of the work of an internationally renowned fiber artist. It is an honor to present this exhibition so close to Minkowitz’s home, where it can be appreciated by her friends and family, as well as to introduce her artwork to those who may be less familiar with fiber arts.”

The exhibition will be in Fairfield University Art Museum’s Bellarmine Hall Galleries, and accessible through the museum’s website as a video tour and a 3-D virtual tour.

The museum has organized a full roster of public programs to accompany the exhibition, beginning with an opening night lecture by curator Sarah Parrish on January 26.

About the Artist
Norma Minkowitz lives and works in Connecticut. Her work is represented in private and public collections across the United States and internationally, including in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, N.Y.; The Renwick Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the De Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, Ca.; The Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pa.; and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn. The James Renwick Alliance named her a Master of the Medium, and she has also been recognized by the American Craft Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is unique among fiber artists for creating hard sculptures from soft materials, and for using thread to invoke universal themes of mortality, memory, nature, and writing. 

About the Curator
Sarah Parrish holds a PhD from Boston University and is currently an assistant professor of art history at Plymouth State University, N.H. Specializing in contemporary American fiber art, she served as the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Curatorial Research Fellow and catalog author for the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston’s landmark textile exhibition Fiber: Sculpture 1960-Present. Her writing on 20th-century craft also appears in Art Papers magazine, The Burlington Magazine, Phaidon’s Vitamin T: Threads and Textiles in Contemporary Art, and the peer-reviewed Journal of Design and Culture. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities’ Humanities Connections grant and was named the American Craft Council’s Emerging Voices Scholar in 2017.

PLANNED EXHIBITION PROGRAMMING:

  • Thursday, Jan. 26, 5 p.m.
    Opening Lecture: "Body to Soul"
    Sarah Parrish, PhD, Assistant Professor of Art History, Plymouth State University, and Curator of the Exhibition
    Part of the Edwin L. Weisl Jr. Lectureships in Art History, funded by the Robert Lehman Foundation
    Bellarmine Hall, Diffley Board Room and streaming (Registration required.)

  • Thursday, Jan. 26, 6-8 p.m.
    Opening Reception: Body to Soul
    Bellarmine Hall Galleries and Great Hall

  • Wednesday, Feb. 1, 12 noon
    Gallery Talk: Norma Minkowitz
    Bellarmine Hall Galleries
    This event is in-person only and will not be recorded.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7, 5 p.m.
    Lecture: "A Cut at the Heart of Womanhood"
    Stephanie Welsh DNP, CNM, FACNM, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Clinical Faculty Specialist in Midwifery and winner of 1996 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography
    Kelley Theatre and streaming on thequicklive.com

  • Saturday, Feb. 11, 2-4 p.m.
    Pop-up Shop: "Woven Community"
    Bellarmine Hall, Museum Classroom

  • Wednesday, Feb. 15, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
    Workshop: "Unusual Materials: Interweaving and Interleaving"
    Jo Yarrington, Professor of Studio Art
    Bellarmine Hall Galleries and Museum Classroom
    Space is limited and registration is required.

  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 12:30-2 p.m. and 2:30-4 p.m.
    Family Day: "Fantastical Fibers"
    Bellarmine Hall Galleries and Museum Classroom

  • Thursday, March 2, 11 a.m. (in person) and 12 noon (streaming)
    Art in Focus: Norma Minkowitz, Goodbye Goddess, 2003, paint and resin on fiber
    Bellarmine Hall Galleries

  • Thursday, March 2, 7–9 p.m.
    Knit Night
    Kate Wellen, Museum Educator
    Museum Classroom

  • Wednesday, March 22, 5 p.m.
    Meditation and Mindfulness With Jackie DeLise
    Special session focusing on the “body and soul”
Learn more and register for events at the Fairfield University Art Museum exhibition website.

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Last modified: 01-19-23 10:50 PM

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