London-based American artist Cecilia Charlton creates technicolour, highly-patterned textile works that reference personal and cultural histories while questioning notions of medium by bringing together traditions of painting, craft, abstraction, and folk art.
Hand-sewing is integral to the work. Time, as a result, becomes central to the work because of the time-consuming nature of needlecraft; the works themselves indirectly evoke a sense of timelessness and ephemera – they seem at once preserved and yet contemporary.
Shape-shifting compositions appear with a visual flickering as their forms simultaneously subsume and embrace, and their colours confound and complement. Aesthetically revolving around formal references to abstraction, the works’ titles often reveal autobiographical content. Drawing on her upbringing in Corning, New York State within a needlecraft-based family, her personal and social history, as explored through textiles, combines with a knowledge base and passion for abstraction and colour theory. These factors when blended with traditional methods and materials result in artworks that have an optically challenging, colourful and playful approach, questioning the hierarchy between paint and fibre. Her meticulous creative process requires an attentiveness, a seriousness, but the implementation of colour allows for a simultaneous feeling of levity and joy. Fractal textiles explode as micro and macro merge.
Questions of feminism, gender roles, and social justice are inherently part of the work. What does it mean for a woman to sew today? Is it feminist? Is it anti-feminist? Spanning the mediums of textiles, installation, and art in the social sphere, the work results in conversation tending towards both the personal and the political.
Cecilia Charlton (b. 1985) received a BFA Painting in 2015 from Hunter College in NYC, and an MA Painting from the Royal College of Art in 2018. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally; her recent exhibitions include: Parade, curated by Kris Day, Broadway Gallery, UK, 2019; Tender Touches, curated by Ines Neto dos Santos and Huma Kabakci of Open Space Contemporary, AMP Gallery, London, 2019; Grid :: Preset, Blyth Gallery, London, 2019; Lifeline as Medium, 532 Gallery, NYC, 2018; SURGE: The Eastwing Biennial, Courtauld Institute, London, 2018; FAKERS, Thamesside Gallery, London, 2018; Rogue Objects, curated by spaceship, University College London, London, 2018. Some awards include the Fulbright UK Scholarship in 2015 (shortlisted), and the Ellen Battel Stockel Fellowship as part of the Yale University Norfolk Residency in 2014.