Magazine article Sculpture

WASHINGTON, DC: Nicole Salimbene

Magazine article Sculpture

WASHINGTON, DC: Nicole Salimbene

Article excerpt

Washington, DC Nicole Salimbene Flashpoint Gallery

Mending comes alive in Nicole Salimbene's breathtaking work, awakening complex sensations of loss, empathy, and healing. An obsolete or forgotten activity for some, for others, it endures as a cultural norm born of economic necessity. In Salimbene's vision, participatory installations incorporating thread, needles, and seating invite viewers to experience mending as a hands-on, multivalent art medium, rich in metaphor and ritual. Like many artists currently exploring tangible solutions to building community, Salimbene is concerned with our overwrought lifestyle and troubled environment. Rather than directing group activities, however, she opts for a silent, more solitary interaction to generate something new from the collective voice of anonymous partners.

With no damaged textile in sight, Salimbene concentrated instead on the stitching process with Zen-like purpose. Who or what needed repair was left to the imagination. Simple furnishings and a minimal palette of white, cream, brown, and black lent a contemplative mood to the gallery and set off the works on view. Mending Waters beckoned from the far wall. A cascade of blue threads evoking the cleansing energy of rain pooled onto the floor, alongside a stool, box of needles, spool of blue thread, and threaded needles. In the center of the gallery, the globally inflected Mending Table featured thousands of needles threaded into a low table, their black strands gracefully spilling onto a mat made of pages from an old world atlas. Yoga cushions on either side brought to mind the humble elegance and inner spirituality of a tea ceremony.

Attention shifted to the earth in Innocence and Experience. Here, Salimbene placed soil from Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico, revered for its healing power, into a rectangular basin, an act that inserted the outside into the gallery and demarcated sacred space. …

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