A faculty member at the state university in Pullman, Washington, Michelle Forsyth is undoubtedly surrounded by plaid. Once the symbol of the Scottish Highlands, in the 1990s plaids shirts came to symbolize the Northwest grunge aesthetic and have since become a staple of mainstream fashion vernacular. In “Letters for Kevin,” a solo show at Auxiliary Projects, Forsyth presents a series of paintings and hand-woven cloths that reference the plaid patterns of her husband Kevin’s shirts.
Tacked on the wall in a grid formation, 94 small studies transcribe the mass-produced plaids into a heart-felt, painterly language, replete with crooked lines, pooled paint and rough edges. Both observational and abstract, Forsyth’s paintings conjure Sylvia Plimack-Mangold’s 1970s wooden floor paintings and Lula Mae Blocton’s less familiar depictions of Kente cloth.
The charming installation at tiny Auxiliary Projects also includes several woven plaid cloths that Forsyth made on a loom, a small mural, and an elegant painting on linen. Perhaps referencing laundry and domestic tedium, one cloth is thrown in the corner and the others are stacked in a neatly folded pile. Forsyth’s work seems to suggest that despite our inundation with mass-produced goods and our ready conformance to sartorial stereotypes, singular expression and reverie can flourish, even within the most mundane domestic circumstances.
“Michelle Forsyth: Letters to Kevin” Auxiliary Projects,” Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Through February 10, 2013.
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