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A Stitch in Time

Emily_featuredBecause of the amazing skill-set of Groundwork’s co-founders, Sarah Athanas and Dena Haden, this space is a co-working facility and much more – an all-around, multi-discipline creative hub in the City of New Bedford.

Some things just happen organically in the space thanks to its talented roster of members. Some value-adds are by design – like the terrific Groundwork! gallery which has already featured several dynamic local and regional artists. Due to Dena’s background as an artist, presenting art and hosting gallery shows was part of the game-plan since day one.

Opening today at Groundwork!, and with a formal Opening Reception next Friday, July 29, is a pip of a show called “Feminine Habitat,” an exhibition by Boston-based artist Emily Brodrick. It’s a wonder-filled romp throughout the first floor of 1213 Purchase Street stitched-together with important underlying themes and historical resonance.

Emily Brodrick uses crochet and knitting to create vibrantly colorful installations, sculptures, and interactive art that feel alive and animated and also reference domestic objects and labor, press material for the show states. And here’s where it gets really interesting in terms of being shown in this space: She asks people to consider fiber art history and how, up until recently, fiber was not considered fine art because of its association with femininity.”

What Emily herself didn’t know until coming to Groundwork! is that the building was the former home of the New Bedford Textile Institute, a space of dreams and legends that was once dedicated to the very art she now pursues.

“It definitely adds to the overall feeling of the show,” Emily wrote to me. “My work is about the distinction people make between art and craft and how fiber is so readily placed into the latter category because of its feminine link. I find it very interesting that my work will be part of that timeline and ask people to consider fiber as a non-functional, purely aesthetic art from in a space where, once upon a time, people were being taught how to make functional objects and household goods. Its interesting to see where fiber has gone in the last 100 years.”

Interestingly, while the art form has gone far over the last century, with Emily’s show in the former temple of textile on the SouthCoast, it’s also stayed right at home!

The work adorning the walls right now is a fun and powerful testament to Emily’s vision and the building’s destiny. She “incorporates references to living organisms and is interested in the similarity between the way plants and her work grows,” she says, and adds that her pieces are part of a family of living entities that are sentient plants, unable to communicate, but “always listening.”

If so, they’ve heard the echos of many years here at Groundwork! and speak as much to the future as to the past. Come listen when an Opening Reception is held on Friday, July 29 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. for “Feminine Habitat.” Follow us on Facebook here for event updates and learn about Emily here until then.


Steven Froias