The Block Gallery
Office of Raleigh Arts
Located on the first and second floors of the Raleigh Municipal Building, The Block Gallery offers five to six exhibitions each year featuring works by artists who live or work in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange or Wake County. Exhibitions are scheduled through a call for artists, juried by a selection panel of visual arts professionals, Raleigh Arts Commissioners and City staff.
Leatha Koefler, Mary Starke and Ely Urbanski
Curated by Stacy Bloom Rexrode, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections
February 1 – March 24, 2017
Artists Reception | First Friday, February 3, 5-7pm
Working with fabric and thread is a purposeful and sometimes self-imposed restriction employed by the artists in Darning Memory. Each artist followed her own unique path to these material choices, but they all employ them to navigate memory and entice viewers to weave their own personal attachments and associations to these recognizable objects and images. The artists use crafting as a strategy to examine memories and even invite a bit of nostalgia. What is this visceral connection we all seem to have to handcrafted items? Perhaps they are reminders of a more simple time and a reaction to the overwhelming influence of technology and the Information Age. At a time when we can document every moment and aspect of our lives using our ever-present smartphones, these works celebrate traditional acts of handiwork while recording and marking the passing of time.
Leatha Koefler has happily assumed the role of rescuing memories held hostage by outdated technologies and methods of documentation. After she inherited three decades of recorded family history following her father's passing and after she realized the floppy disks that held her daughter's wedding images had become obsolete, Koefler was inspired to reinvent these precious objects. Working with embroidery thread, slides and floppy disks, Koefler sews images of past generations along with the living in a manner that brings the family together.
For Mary Starke, each stitch through vintage linens represents the passage of time through the painstakingly slow process of embroidery. She uses heirloom fabrics as a link to imagined histories and a time when women expressed themselves by sewing samplers. As she adds her patterns to already present threads, thoughts inevitably arise about the previous owner and the possible parallels among different generations. The experience is intimate and meditative for both the artist and the viewer.
Resourcefulness is a common trait among artists and one that Ely Urbanski used to build this body of work. With little access to traditional artist materials and tools, she used what was available (clothing) and what she knew (printmaking). After her initial printing, the ghostly clothing portraits seemed to possess both visible and underlying histories. She began to gather garments from others and record their personal stories and attachments to these precious items. Many speak affectionately about outfits passed down through generations or special places they wore the pieces. We each select our wardrobes with purpose, revealing our personalities in the process. Urbanski captures these personal stories through her ethereal printings.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
LEATHA KOEFLER | leathakoefler.com | Watch: Artist Block video
Leatha Koefler earned her Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati and her Master of Education at North Carolina State University. Koefler taught art at Apex High School for 20 years, spending summers continuing her education at Savannah College of Art and Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her time at the Art Institute inspired her to see the objects in her life differently, and she now uses remnants of outdated technologies to build art pieces.
Koefler also teaches at the Sertoma Arts Center and Artspace in Raleigh. She serves on the Artsplosure Steering Committee and maintains a studio at Litmus Gallery and Studios on Cabarrus Street in the warehouse district of downtown Raleigh.
MARY STARKE | marystarke.weebly.com | Watch: Artist Block video
Mary Starke lives and works in Raleigh, where she was born in 1988. When she was 7 years old, her mother taught her a few simple embroidery stitches, but she did not pick up sewing again until a college surface design class sparked her interest. In 2012, Mary completed her BFA in Studio Art with distinction at Meredith College. She works predominantly in the medium of embroidery. Her embroidered drawings portray snapshots of people in different stages of life, and the work is often inspired by photographs of her family. She has found value in the embroidered work of Joetta Maue and Jenny Hart. Mary's work has been shown at CAM Raleigh, Litmus Gallery, VAE and World of Art Showcase. Her work has been published in several editions of The Colton Review, Meredith's literary and art journal.
ELY URBANSKI | printosynthesis.com | Watch: Artist Block video
Ely Urbanski was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. Her father, a photographer, and mother, a dressmaker, heavily influence her work. Ely studied art education at the University of São Paulo, where she learned from well-known printmaker Evandro Carlos Jardim.
Ely has been developing her art in Snow Camp, N.C., creating prints on paper and sometimes using sewing patterns as subjects. Other projects use clothes as matrices for her prints. Most of the garments are donations from friends and exhibition visitors, some of whom participated in video recordings in which they tell the stories behind the clothing. Interacting with the local community has been an important part of Ely's creative process. She has exhibited throughout North Carolina and in Brazil and Tokyo.
Gallery is scheduled through July 2017.
Eligibility requirements for the Block Gallery are as follows:
- Applicants must be eighteen years of age or older and residing or working in Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange or Wake County for at least one year by the application due date.
- Artists applying to the Block Gallery must have participated in two juried or invitational shows in the past five years.
- Commercial gallery representatives are not eligible to apply on behalf of artists or as curators, although artists represented by a commercial gallery are eligible to apply individually.
- Curators may propose an exhibit for the Block Gallery or for the Block Gallery's second-floor cases. All artists included in the curator's proposal must meet the eligibility requirements for artists who apply individually.
The Block Gallery was designed to serve as one of the city's premier exhibition spaces. Managed by the Office of Raleigh Arts, the gallery has introduced close to 200 artists to area residents and visitors since its inception in 1984. Dedicated in 2006 to honor community leader Miriam Preston Block, its marble walls and impressive staircase provide an ideal setting for art.
In accordance with the mission "to connect local artists to community through ongoing exhibitions and public outreach," the Block Gallery fosters great artists and great art.
BLOCK GALLERY EXHIBITED ARTISTS
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Mary Kay Kennedy
Georges Le Chevallier
BLOCK2 EXHIBITED ARTISTS
Kia Mercedes Carscallen
David Colagiovanni and Melissa Haviland
Location and Hours
222 West Hargett Street
M-F, 8:30am - 5:15pm (open until 7pm on opening reception nights)