Amanda McCavour’s thread drawings fill the Elvehjem building’s Paige Court, depicting Wisconsin flora on a monumental scale. The work was commissioned to mark the building’s—and the museum’s—50th anniversary in 2020.
McCavour, who works with fabric and stitching to create embroidered installations, developed a new site-specific work in response to the collection and history of the Chazen Museum of Art and UW–Madison. The work will challenge the visual weight and dominating presence of the design and travertine marble of the Elvehjem building. Suspended Landscapes will be on view from March 11-Sept. 11, 2022.
“The Elvehjem Building was where our museum began, during a time of great national turmoil,” said Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen. “Amanda McCavour’s work has an assumed vulnerability, yet it also possesses great strength. Her work will offer a remarkable transformation of that space and reflection of our collection. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate all that has changed, and all that hasn’t, at the Chazen, during the museum’s first 50 years.”
McCavour’s work is often described as drawing with thread. By sewing into fabric that dissolves in water, McCavour builds up stitched lines on a temporary surface. When the fabric is dissolved, the thread drawing holds together without a base. The crossing threads possess an unexpected strength that counters the appearance of fragility. To present these thread drawings on a monumental scale, McCavour has printed them on rolls of sheer fabric that hang from the fourth floor and terminate in Paige Court.
During research trips to campus, McCavour visited the botany department, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the UW Librairies’ Special Collections, and studied native plant specimens held in the Wisconsin State Herbarium [https://herbarium.wisc.edu/about/] and botanical works from the Chazen’s collection. McCavour will also curate a presentation of the artwork on campus that inspired the installation, alongside her own preparatory drawings and materials.
Programming & Financial Support
This exhibition is made possible in part with support from the Office of the Chancellor.
The artist would like to acknowledge funding support from the Canada Council for the Arts and from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.