Colleen Toutant Merrill
November 1 – December 15, 2012
Institute 193, Lexington
Institute 193 is pleased to present Amended Artifacts, a solo exhibition of new work by the artist Colleen Toutant Merrill. Merrill repurposes handmade quilts into fabric sculptures and embroidered two-dimensional works that examine contemporary systems of communication.
For Merrill, quilts serve as artifacts of collective identities. In many cultures, quilt-making was a communal activity, and the product of a quilting bee’s labor was a tangible relic of their interactions with one another. Contemporary relationships also produce artifacts, but these are increasingly of a digital, easily replicable nature. Merrill has printed a series of photographs gleaned from social media—the intangible artifacts of modern relationships—and stitched cloth from found quilts over top of them into patterns that recall traditional quilt designs, and also reference the facial recognition software used by Facebook. The faces in the photographs are obscured by the quilted fabric, creating unsettling images that question the impact of social media on the formation of our personal and collective identities.
This exhibition also includes a series of found, handmade quilts Merrill has deconstructed and re-stitched into large-scale works that complicate the division between what is considered craft and what is considered fine art. Displayed beside her altered social media images, these textured, tactile pieces underscore the changes in physical culture brought on by technology.