Greg S. Flood

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Art Writing

Lauren DiCioccio at Jack Fischer Gallery and Catharine Clark Gallery


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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Untitled (Abstraction G)', 2012; Hand stitched felt, thread, and fiber fill. (8 x 7 x 3.5 inches) (6.5 x 4 x 3 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

This August Lauren DiCioccio has had double showings in San Francisco. The Recology Alumni Group Show at the Catharine Clark Gallery, which closed on Aug. 25, had a selection of her older works coupled with pieces made at the Recology Residency, which is fitting for the retrospective nature of the show. ‘Lauren DiCioccio’, the most recent show at the Jack Fischer Gallery, is a solo show of new works by DiCioccio that mark the beginning of a radical departure in her focus as an artist and in the forms she creates. Her solo exhibit has been extended until Sept. 15.

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Lauren DiCioccio, '1 FEB 10 (Lady Gaga)', 2010; Hand-embroidery on cotton over an edition of the New York Times. (11 x 11.5 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

Known for her fine embroidery reproductions of commonplace objects, DiCioccio has established herself as a master of the craft. Unlike most finished embroidery, however, she leaves the loose threads dangling from the images she has chosen to reproduce. This choice breaks the monotony of traditional embroidery by giving it a feeling of being unfinished and adds an additional dimensional depth. Also, DiCioccio often changes the colors of the original image she is re-creating from a magazine or news paper, adding an element of surprise to the image.

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Lauren DiCioccio, '15 JAN 09 (Joe Biden)', 2009; Hand-embroidery on cotton over an edition of the New York Times. (11 x 12.5 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

The Recology Alumni Show, at the Catharine Clark Gallery, included four of the artist’s signature newspaper works and two sculptures of desiccated animals assembled from pieces of fabric. Recology is the company that collects recyclable materials in San Francisco and they established a residency program for artists interested in using recycled materials to make their work. DiCioccio was accepted to the program in 2011 in part because of her use of old newspapers in her work.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'National Geographic February 1981 (crane)', 2012; Hand-embroidery on cotton. (10 x 7.5 x .75 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

For the newspaper pieces in this exhibition, DiCioccio took a section of a national news paper like the New York Times or the Washington Post, encased it in an envelope of cotton muslin, and then selectively decided to re-create the details of the central image on the cover of that newspaper section. In these four pieces she selected images of Lady Gaga, an action scene of the New York Jets, Vice President Joe Biden, and in the fourth a Complex overlay of Cabinet Secretaries in the Obama administration. The layering of the embroidery on top of the semi-transparent muslin, which reveals some of the wording for the headlines, adds multiple layers of depth and interest for viewers, and asks them to recall who this person is and why they were in the news.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'America and Americans (cross-stitched book)', 2012; Cross-stitch into found book. (17 x 11 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

‘Lauren DiCioccio’, the solo show of the artist’s work at the Jack Fischer Gallery has a mixture of both her older works and a new series of pieces that are a radical departure from the earlier work. Among the examples of her earlier works are life size reproductions of National Geographic Magazines, which includes multiple layers of fabric to recreate the thickness of the original magazine, playing cards and dollar bills with all of the imagery stitched in, sheet music reproducing the score to ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’, and the life size reproduction of vintage alarm clocks, among other objects.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Bycycle Card Deck', 2012; Hand-embroidery on cotton, backing material, matte medium. (3 x 5 x .5 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

One newer set of work within this theme are the found books DiCioccio has anchored open to a particular point and then has cross stitched out all of the letters individually, while leaving the spacing between the words intact. In a demonstration of her obsessiveness, DiCioccio has used a color coding scheme for each letter, so if the viewer new the code they could read what was on the page. By obliterating the meanings of the text under a polychrome of colored thread, she is obscuring the message of the text and challenging us to decode its original meaning.

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'Lauren DiCioccio' at Jack Fischer Gallery, 2012 (installation view) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

DiCioccio’s work is inspired by the common place objects in our daily lives that are becoming obsolete or are disappearing entirely from our lives because of the digital revolution. In particular, she is interested in what will happen when we can no longer touch information in our hands, when information is not longer fixed on the page, and when we will no longer write in longhand. She employs the tedious and detailed techniques of hand embroidery to remind us viewers of the importance these objects had in our lives and that their disappearance is leaving us with a big hole in the physical realm of our daily lives.

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'Lauren DiCioccio' at Jack Fischer Gallery, 2012 (installation view) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

Also on display at the Jack Fischer Gallery are DiCioccio’s newest works, which are a major departure from the body of work described above. These sculptures are fully stuffed, abstract forms that are arranged in pairs. I have never seen forms quite like these before. They are made of felt, thread and, in some cases, wire. The closest DiCioccio gets to referencing other abstract works is a columnar form that resembles the Column of the Infinite sculpture by Constantin Brancusi. Other than that the works bring to mind the works of Louise Bourgoeis or Isamu Noguchi, but only with the smallest hints. One pair, especially, is evocative of the sculptures created by Hans Belmer.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Untitled (Abstraction B)', 2012; Hand stitched felt, thread, and fiber fill. (8 x 4.5 x 3.5 inches) (7.5 x 4.5 x 3 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

These works are unique abstracts, not least because they are done in textiles and at a small scale (the tallest of them is 12 inches), but also because they are almost all done in pairs. The arrangements of them in tableaus on low pedestals, allows the viewer to walk around and engage in the conversation going on between the two elements. Some bring to mind parent and child relationships, others two amorphic animals going about their lives. One piece looks as if two separate forms joined together to form a single unit and are now joined for life.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Untitled (Abstraction J)', 2012; Hand stitched felt, thread, and fiber fill. (9 x 2 x 2 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

The subtlety and small scale of these works are what makes them so powerful for the viewer. They are truly intimate and ask us to come closer, to see what they are, and imagine how they would behave. It is very difficult for an artist to give their works a sense of life that truly resonates with the viewer. It is the greatest gift and artist can give to the viewer. It means the viewer will continue to be engaged with the work over time, to think about it, and ponder its possibilities. It also means that the work will survive multiple owners as it journeys through the future.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Untitled (Abstraction H)', 2012; Hand stitched felt, thread, and fiber fill. (12 x 9 x 3.5 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

At this point, there is no going back for Lauren DiCioccio. She has leapt out of the comfort zone of her first body of work and discovered something that leaves it completely behind. This is not to discount the importance of the earlier works in any way, because the space they occupy is important in the discourse of what is happening in our lives. The one other thing for certain is that DiCioccio will most likely need to revisit her artist statement to reflect what is happening in this new body of work.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Untitled (Abstraction F)', 2012; Hand stitched felt, thread, fiber fill, and wire. (6.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 inches) (6.5 x 4 x 10 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

Recology Alumni Group Show at the Catharine Clark Gallery closed on August 25, 2012. 150 Minna Street, San Francisco, 94105. (415) 399-1439. Images of the show can be found here.

‘Lauren DiCioccio’ at the Jack Fischer Gallery has been extended until September 15, 2012 49 Geary St., Suite 418, San Francisco; (415) 956-1178. More information about Lauren DiCioccio can be found here.

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Lauren DiCioccio, 'Untitled (Abstraction G)', 2012; Hand stitched felt, thread, and fiber fill. (5.5 x 5.5 x 4.5 inches) (5.5 x 7 x 5.5 inches) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

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'Lauren DiCioccio' at Jack Fischer Gallery, 2012 (installation view) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

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'Lauren DiCioccio' at Jack Fischer Gallery, 2012 (installation view) (Image Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery)

#LaurenDiCiccio #JackFischerGallery #CatharineClarkGallery #SanFranciscoArt #RecologyResidency #Contemporarysculpture #Contemporaryart

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