• Carol Wiebe

Recontextualization Can Revitalize An Ancient Tradition

When an artist creates a work of art, the emphasis is primarily placed on the piece itself, not the tools that were used to fabricate it. Of course, a well crafted tool is a thing of beauty. You not only enjoy the shape and construction of the tool, but are able to imagine what you will shape and construct with it.

Jennifer Falck Linssen has taken an ancient Japanese paper/textile tradition, where Katagami (stencils) were used with Katazome (dye resist techniques) to pattern textiles, and elevated the stencil itself to an art form. Recontextualization is the term she uses to describe her disruption of the hierarchy of importance. Linssen hand carves pattern pieces out of archival paper, then stitches and weaves them with metal, bamboo/reed and waxed linen to devise a sculpture. This form is then dyed, painted, patinaed, and varnished. She considers her combination of katagami, metalsmithing, and basketry techniques to be a “unique and contemporary take on an ancient tradition.”

Linssen’s Wave & Water series includes pieces that demonstrate simplicity and flowing elegance, especially The Passage and Sea Spray. Her Fire & Emotion series is equally compelling.


The Passage ~ by Jennifer Falck Linssen (used with permission)


Sea Spray ~ by Jennifer Falck Linssen (used with permission)


Receptive ~ by Jennifer Falck Linssen (used with permission)


Together ~ by Jennifer Falck Linssen (used with permission)


Jennifer Falck Linssen describes her current work as being about “the struggle between fragility and endurance.” ” The calm and refined exterior,” she says, reflects her way of  “seeking harmony and serenity in life.” What I sense is a barely contained energy and exuberance behind the serenity. There is something very attractive about that.

Her work also makes me throw second glances at the tools I am using ~ could any of them have the potential to step out of their subordinate role and seize center stage? Just thinking along these lines can have a revitalizing effect on your current art practices: devising novel ways to utilize old tools is a worthy avenue to explore. The same can be done with your materials: new art materials have been brought into existence that way (I think of Vesta Abel‘s Veggie Leather or Jessica Wesolek‘s Sheer Heaven).

In factory land, the projection of new products equals a need for new specifications: the machinery has to be retooled. Then a Linssen comes along and turns the old tools, themselves, into a new product. A gorgeous product.

That’s an impressive accomplishment.

#ThePassage #ancientJapanesepapertextiletradition #katazone #retool #Katagami #JenniferFalckLinssen #tools #VeggieLeather #FireampEmotion #VestaAbel #metalsmithing #JessicaWesolek #basketry #recontextualization #SheerHeaven

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