he term synaesthesia refers to the neuropsychological trait in which the stimulation of one sense causes the automatic experience of another sense. It also is used to describe the deliberate connections between the various senses through artistic experimentation, most often linking the aural and the visual. Kandinsky might be modern art history’s most well known practitioner of such Visual Music, a term coined by Roger Fry in 1912 to describe his paintings, connecting the formal elements of the visual arts — color, line, shape — with the formal elements of music — tone, harmony, rhythm.
Before meeting artist Spencer Merolla, I knew nothing of hairwork. The art of weaving human hair (ideally that of a loved one, living or deceased) into intricate adornment, to be worn or displayed in the home, originated in the late 18th century. It reached its apotheosis in the Victorian era, when sentimentality reigned and death and mourning were not subjects to be avoided. Pins, wreaths, and buttons, among other decorative objects made with hair, were seen as proper expressions of emotion, particularly grief. For a widower to keep his watch on a chain made of his wife's hair was a customary way to signal that he was in mourning, to make visible the anguish of his interior life.
We have had the good fortune of living with a pair of three-dimensional woven wall hangings by the artist Lenore Kantor Tetkowski for the Spring season. The pieces -- Boxes with a Twist (28 X 8 in, 2010) and Four Turning Strips (25 X 24 in, 2009), both double weave pick-up, perle cotton -- are powerful examples of Lenore’s lifetime devotion to the art and craft of weaving. And April's opening was a welcome chance to talk with Lee about technique, the tactile pleasure in fibers, the deliberative process of warping the loom and mapping out an artistic journey, and the metaphorical -- even metaphysical -- richness of this ancient art form.
Sienna, who spent 14 years living in Rome, began following the Amanda Knox case when it broke in 2007. What struck her from the beginning was the hyperbole used to describe Ms. Knox in both the Italian and English-language press, all propagated by the Perugian police and the prosecution team through an irresponsible news media. As the list of aspersions grew longer, Sienna began to record them, studying their etymology and reflecting on their historical use. This 8-year inquiry into the destructive power of words and the history of character assassination is reflected in an immense amount of work that far exceeds the capacity of our home.
In early February, I had the great pleasure of attending an opening at yet another new chapter of the Society for Domestic Museology. Our friends Joe and Sundus invited Saks Afridi and Quinza Najm, who comprise the artistic duo BOLO (Urdu for "speak up"), to show some of their collaborative work. Featuring four large paintings from a series called Frontiers and a hauntingly powerful sculpture, the show -- and the dramatically transformed apartment setting -- made for the most gallery-like Domestic Museology opening yet.