Crutch and Wince, Jodi Waltier – April 6th – 29th, 2017
Visiting Shift Gallery for Jodi Waltier’s solo exhibit “Crutch and Wince” is like walking into Labyrinth. Though it is laid out in two rooms and chronologically, like a retrospective, it is anything but linear.
The first piece that I encounter is maybe my favorite: a series of dark felted sea-weedy shapes attached directly to the wall. There are 5 to represent the “dark months of winter”. How Jodi describes her work is a glimpse in to her bubbling mind. She sees the shapes as dark and heavy, and perhaps they are in contrast to the more colorful, light and layered pieces in the exhibit, but they are also so warm, rich and lovely, earthy even. These shapes appear again in the next room, as stencils in 2 large layered “paintings”. I have to use quotes because Jodi Waltier is at least a painter, but I’m quite certain that she is also a printmaker, fiber artist, word weaver and teacher.
In several pieces she makes reference to large corn cobs which she has painted in lipstick colors like testing palettes. She talks about the corn as a symbol as if it makes total sense to me, and I start to understand how deep her process goes. She has her own visual language by which she is telling us these stories. If you ask, be prepared to follow the path, it will be worth it.
Hearing Jodi describe her work is a pleasure. She tries her best to give words and evidence to the process itself. She is an Artist’s Artist. Seeing her work and listening to her makes you want to get to the studio and start throwing things around. But make no mistake, this work is deliberate. The pieces are thought out and while playful, also very sophisticated. I realize this exhibit is also an installation, set up as a window into her creative process, laid out as transparently as she can muster. She wants us to see. It is in fact a Labyrinth. So walk it as directed, or hop in and out, either way it is a lovely experience.
Her print techniques show up in many pieces as does her background in fiber art. But to me, it is how she has installed the work that is the most intriguing to me and tells me the unspoken story of this body of work. Each piece nudges the next. By the end, I wonder, what did I just see and what is next? The next to last piece in the exhibit has a bit of fabric sewn on the corner and save for the first piece, the only one to leave the square. It says to me,” I’m making a break for it!” and I can’t wait it see where it goes.
I should mention that I am not objective, I adore Jodi. I know her after taking a shibori class with her last year. Immediately in her studio I felt like I was in a very special place. I tried to be quiet though I had a million questions about all her things. She enjoyed telling us about work. I did not want her to stop because it is like listening to a very good story and you know that you are going to hear something special. As a teacher, I quickly realized her wealth of knowledge. She has 30 plus years of various print and fiber/ fabric experience and years of teaching. She is one of those people who has a lot of tips and tricks and shares them generously. Do yourself a favor and go see the show when she is there, ask questions and sit back and take the ride.