January 22 - September 7, 2016
As an art student, Philadelphia area artist Caroline Lathan-Stiefel studied drawing and painting. At times, her 2-dimensional student work included elements of collage – fabric and textiles. Over the years, her professional work evolved to exclusively use textile-based materials such as pipe cleaners, fabric, wire, thread, and plastic to create 3-dimensional suspended works of art. Today, Lathan-Stiefel’s work shares a similar visual language to drawing and painting. She has described the similarities of her textile work to painting as “layered monumental and textural, where color and light play an essential role.” Likewise, her use of line as the underlying structural basis for her work reflects her continued interest in drawing.
Typically, Lathan-Stiefel’s 3-dimensional compositions feature an open, airy, lattice-like structure made of pipe cleaners and wire accentuated with dense, detailed, repetitive patterns of materials like cloth and plastic. She has said “while the forms suggest systems or structures, they are also meant to reflect time and my own hand work.”
Her constructions, which are light and flexible due to the nature of the materials, combine both geometric shapes with abstract forms that are influenced by microscopic systems found in marine and plant biology. Partly architectural and partly organic, Lathan-Stiefel’s woven and sewn compositions allude to cellular growth where elements seem to divide and regenerate to form a larger whole.
In this particular installation, Lathan-Stiefel has created a visual interpretation based on the human brain and its cellular network. This non-scientific, abstract look at the mind has been described as a “kind of mapping of the neurological landscape” with an emphasis on its interconnected and intricately beautiful complexities.