Dirt, Fabric, Sunshine and Rust

Jodi Waltier at Shift Gallery through April 28, 2018

Stephanie Hargrave

Jodi Waltier’s show Evaporation Diaries is rich in blues and rust. You’re not quite sure what you are looking at, but the intrigue is there, and process clearly played a role.

Waltier is an avid gardener, and digging became a component in this exhibition. Objects would surface – not surprising for an old orchard home built before garbage service. The soil delivered metal objects over the course of 25 years; hinges, screws, bolts, toys, cleats, axles. All got tossed into a bucket in hopes of one day making a cast garden gate.

One day the bucket tipped over and there began the process. A bolt of muslin was Waltier’s reaction to the beautiful spill. She began binding and hand stitching her rusty “specimen” into fabric, wrapping with varied pressure and stitching styles. These bundles were put in plastic bags with vinegar and left in the sun, creating patterns revealing both objects and stitch marks, but more like ghosts. Then she dyed the fabric with indigo. The wet fabric was stunning. She began documenting the process to capture the glistening immediacy, as well as the “visceral” feeling of it – these became the aptly executed photographs printed on metal. Eventually sections of fabric were framed and named, and she was aching to work with ink and paper again.

Waltier’s collages tie in suitably: she makes off/press prints from plates built from found objects. One last surprise find, like the bucket, was a calendar featuring Mount Fuji by Hokusai that she rendered in her sketchbook as Nōtan drawings. These, along with stencils from a prior project, were traced onto panels to create problems to solve. The underlying structure of the landscape became a self-imposed mentor to help with her self-made dilemmas, all with the aim of teaching herself more about color, paint and ink.

The process provided time to think, reflect and heal from a prior injury. What often came up was the idea of evaporation itself – what do we lose? What is left? And wonderment at how long-ago objects come full circle to make one artist able to riff for months on their possibilities.

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