Walking past the Sherman Gallery in the George Sherman Union, it’s impossible to not be intrigued by the brightly multicolored, eye-catching tapestries that hang on the translucent walls. Walk a little closer and you’ll see that the tapestries are woven with everyday items like cutlery, stones and watches. “It’s not you, it’s me,” an exhibit featuring work by alumnus Stacey Piwinski (CFA ’99, ’00) presents a fascinating artistic alternative to storytelling and documenting the passage of time.
The weavings set themselves apart with a distinct color palette, each one vivid with overlapping hues. While each piece involves many distinctive qualities, the result is never overwhelming or crowded. Each is like a game of “I Spy.” Take a glimpse at the piece and see what you notice or pick out. Sometimes if you look twice, you’ll see something you didn’t see before.
While most of the pieces are hung from the walls, one piece “1039 Minutes of Janson” is rolled up on the floor, looking like a thick yoga mat. All rolled up together is the weaving of cotton, yarn and ripped-up pieces of a “Janson’s History of Art” textbook, representing Piwinski’s time as an art student.
Piwinski incorporates multimedia aspects to one piece, “Donna,” on which she collaborated with a woman named Donna. The fabric is woven from discarded items Donna made Piwinski, and Piwinski painted the piece in response to their conversations. Donna then composed a piano composition from the painted composition, which viewer can hear in the gallery using a QR code. The addition of music adds to the piece and audibly shows the combination of both women’s work.
A massive piece called “Two Years” takes over one giant wall of the gallery, with narrower weavings placed right next to each other. Some don’t make it to the bottom of the wall, while some cascade onto the floor.
Each piece holds something different, like sparkles, pencils and knitting needles. One piece stands out, holding written phrases like “I decided it wasn’t worth it,” “I don’t feel so good” and “It is what it is.” It reads like a diary — a tangible presentation of the artist’s thoughts.
The exhibit presents many different pieces, but they’re all cohesive. “Bill” is created from t-shirts, “Amy 3” is made with bobbins and “Jamie V” is woven from yarn and oil paint. “Phyllis” is created from, in Piwinki’s words, “discarded items.” “September 20th, 1911” contains 11 hand-braided ropes with painted patterns — polka dots and stripes contrasting, but somehow looking right together.
Descriptions of these pieces don’t nearly do them justice. They are so special and visual that until you’re standing in front of them you, don’t get the full picture. You could spend hours in the exhibit and still not catch every detail, every complexity that it holds. The mix of mediums, from sewing to collage to weaving to painting, is done impressively, tying Piwinski’s vision together. The exhibit perfectly captures how elaborate and involved the human life is, even when just looking at small elements.
Each tapestry is unique from the others and intricately woven. The amount of time and effort put into each piece is clear. Each provides insight to part of her life and even if you don’t know Piwinski personally, the pieces are so raw and innately human that it’s easy for anyone to look at the exhibit and relate to one if not all of the weavings.
The pieces make small items significant and beautiful, and spur the viewer to think about what’s important to them. A touching, special collage of a lifetime so far, “It’s not you, it’s me” is not to be missed.