Studio Champloo

Studio Champloo

In one Japanese dialect, champloo is a culinary term meaning “mixed up” or “blended together,” but colloquially, it refers to improvising or making things up as you go along. This is what the two heroes of the popular Japanese animated television series Samurai Champloo must do to reconcile their substantial differences as they battle corruption and defend the innocent. When artist and professor Byron Anway discovered that Samurai Champloo was a shared interest and cultural touchstone between himself and his students, he was inspired to consider art-making in a new way. To Anway, champloo was an apt metaphor for an idea he had been incubating: How can artists mix up their own work by exploring other mediums? 

For Studio Champloo, Anway asked regional artists to engage specifically with quiltmaking themes and values to challenge and expand their own studio practices. As Anway describes in each exhibit label, some do this in formal ways by referencing and incorporating quilt-related techniques and materials. Others address the conceptual issues surrounding quilts, including domesticity, tradition, and gender. The nine artists—ambitious, vibrant, contemporary, and socially engaged—all have Nebraska connections. Studio Champloo presents their blended, boundary-pushing work and hints at possibilities for further mixing of mediums in the future.

About the Guest Curator

About the Guest Curator
About the Guest Curator

Byron Anway is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the School of Art, Art History, and Design. Before coming to the university, Anway taught art abroad at the International School of Brussels in Belgium and American Academy Casablanca in Morocco. His work has been exhibited at the Joslyn Art Museum and the Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, and the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. His work also appears in New American Paintings: West, International Painting Annual and the Prairie Schooner.

Featured Works

Featured Works

Past Lives no. 4
Amanda Smith
2018
Springfield, Missouri
Cotton fabric, digital print on cotton, thread, batting

Past Life Raft no. 1
Amanda Smith
2019
Springfield, Missouri
Acrylic, spray paint, canvas, wool, mixed cotton fabrics, digital prints on cotton, polyfill

Amanda Smith uses collage techniques to piece together representational images, patterns, and abstract color fields. This collage practice became the gateway for Smith’s exploration into quiltmaking, textile design, and soft sculpture.
 
The edges seen in collage-generated imagery are a natural complement to the seams that appear in patchwork and appliqué. The seams in Smith’s soft sculpture feel cohesive, complex, and purposeful, with hand painted marks applied across them to bridge seemingly disparate imagery and provide a cohesive visual result

Legs (diptych)
McKenzie Phelps
2019
Omaha, Nebraska
Cotton

Trained as a painter, McKenzie Phelps has shifted her art practice to patchwork and quilting. She uses silhouettes of the female form to show ambivalence about gender roles and the relationship between craft and contemporary art, and to highlight the male dominance of painting as a historical art form. 
 
Phelps’s patchwork pieces flaunt their antagonism, twisting expectations of proper female behavior while embracing both traditional and contemporary conceptions of femininity. In Legs (diptych), Phelps recreates the expected rectangular format of a painting or quilt by using two sets of powerful legs to anchor the top left and bottom right of the picture plane in oppositional geometry.

(Inner) Power Suit
tūdūsō
2019
Cotton, hand-dyed and printed with natural dyestuffs

tūdūsō is an art collective of two: Demetria Geralds of Bellevue, Nebraska and Victoria Hoyt of Omaha, Nebraska. Geralds’s career as a fashion designer stems from childhood when she learned quilting from her grandmother, cutting and seaming squares by hand without the aid of a sewing machine. Hoyt, who trained as a painter, also grew up around sewing and has always been drawn strongly to pattern, layering, and textiles. 

With (Inner) Power Suit, tūdūsō takes back a symbol of structural power and disrupts notions of women’s dress. Suits are traditionally prim and proper—and male—but (Inner) Power Suit stands defiant against convention. tūdūsō’s shared fabrication process generates a sense of solidarity and pride, prioritizing the handmade, the natural, and the communal.

Hammydown
Michael Villarreal
Dale, Texas
2019
Spray paint, latex paint, primer, joint compound, insulation foam on canvas

Drawn to the ubiquity and familiarity of domestic objects, Michael Villarreal thinks of his smooth, painted forms not as singular creations of his own, but rather as bizarre stand-ins for the everyday objects of the viewer’s life. Playful, faux-utilitarian, and beautiful, the viewer can place their own experiences onto these simplified forms. In Hammydown, a recreation of Villarreal’s own childhood quilt, the rigid structure of plaster and polystyrene stand in paradoxical contrast to the implied warmth and comfort of quilts and other bedding.

Brackish, 2019
Delta, 2019
Eddy, 2019
Camille Hawbaker Voorhees
Omaha, Nebraska 
Thread, marbled paper, ink, etching

In Brackish, Delta, and Eddy, Camille Hawbaker Voorhees reveals her interest in spirituality and universal patterns in nature. The swirling shapes of the marbled paper mirror the titular references to river terminology. In contrast to the aqueous forms, pages from the dictionary were woven into gridded structures implying knowledge but becoming illegible. With a similar transformation, Bible text was spun into thread, the religious teaching simultaneously retained and destroyed. The hand-dyed paper and thread compositions function both as individual works but also as quilt blocks hinting at a larger future composition.

Shard VII
Camille Hawbaker Voorhees
2017
Omaha, Nebraska 
Etching on silk, nylon thread, burnout on paper

Camille Hawbaker Voorhees is a printmaker and textile artist who draws upon themes of family, religion, storytelling, and decay to make delicate text/image hybrids evocative of historical documents, lost correspondence, and microbiological processes. She uses the rectangular format shared by printmaking, quiltmaking, and journaling to create a delicate web of biomorphic etchings informed structurally by each other in systematic but indecipherable ways. 
 
To incise the hand-written text into Shard VII, Hawbaker Voorhees uses a textile technique called devoré, or burnout, traditionally used to create patterns in textured fabrics like velvet. She loads the burnout chemical, sodium bisulphate, into a pen and journals onto her visual works in ways that help clear her mind and are uninhibited by the rules, history, and conversations of contemporary art.

Move to California
Ryan Crotty
2019
Auburn, Nebraska 
Acrylic, modeling paste, gloss gel medium on canvas

Saw You in a Dream
2019
Acrylic, modeling paste, gloss gel medium on canvas

Ryan Crotty’s acrylic paintings are spatially ambiguous. Flat yet transparent, thin yet volumetric, they embody a cohesive contradiction of two- and three-dimensionality. The visuality of the canvases’ texture grounds the paintings as physical objects. Symmetrical vertical bars running parallel to the canvas edges seem like glowing neon tubes but also hint at the physical structure of the underlying woodwork. As in quiltmaking, materials, seams, and patterns are part of the resulting imagery.

Producing both object and image, Crotty’s painting process is dictated by action and subsequent friction as much as by image and illusion. The paintings reference geometry but in an exaggeratedly soft sort of way, glowing and dissipating into overexposed edges.

Untitled (Macedonia)
Jen Bockelman
2019
Seward, Nebraska
Pre-printed scaffold debris netting, yarn, embroidery

Jennifer Bockelman is a sculptor with a background in socially engaged art. At home in Seward, Nebraska or traveling around the world, Bockelman seeks out the stories we as individuals or as collective societies tell ourselves about who we are. In particular, she examines the narratives formed through the objects we discard, and she responds to these stories by altering and repurposing found objects as sculpture. 
 
Untitled 2 is a multilayered hanging textile work fabricated from discarded scaffold netting Bockelman found while in the Republic of North Macedonia. Normally this material is draped over the outside of buildings to protect pedestrians and cars from falling debris during renovation and construction projects. Bockelman was drawn to the grid matrix of the found textile; through needlepoint, layering, veiling, and draping she creates a mini-environment that alters space, obscures meaning, and leads us to question the factuality of the messages that surround our everyday lives.

Chair
Michael Larsen
2019
Lincoln, Nebraska
Oil and spray paint on ceramic

Ruffle Collar
2019
Oil paint on ceramic

Slinky Descending Staircase
2019
Oil paint on ceramic

Conflicting experiences of space, material, representation, and reality abound in Michael Larsen’s representational ceramic sculptures. In Ruffle Collar, center, Michael Larsen presents the viewer with an Elizabethan ruff made in a heavily textured ceramic clay body with a visual similarity to concrete. Drawn to the repeating carousel of teardrop folds, we follow interlocking layers, lines, and spaces viewed “in the round,” but also experience disorientation by his calculated compression of space. In Chair, angles and shadows fool the eye like a pop-up book, as deep space flattens to reveal impossible angles and hidden supports. In Slinky Descending Staircase, we experience implied motion and gravity from a completely static object. 

In a manner similar to quilts, Larsen’s sculptures are displayed against the wall, but not flush against it, allowing shallow planes to catch light, highlighting surface texture, and giving these sculptures a different type of architectural presence that is both flattened and volumetric.

Champloo Boogaloo I
Colin C. Smith
2019
Omaha, Nebraska
Resin and pigment on aluminum 

Champloo Boogaloo II
2019
Resin and pigment on aluminum

Colin Smith is more interested in provoking questions with his art than providing answers. Playfully and sometimes mischievously, Smith walks the line between two and three dimensions, marrying his non-objective painting background with the material sensitivity, seaming techniques, and volumetric nature of quilts. His work also highlights the hard edge geometry, monumental scale, and spatial ambiguity inherent in both of these practices. 

In Champloo Boogaloo, Smith responds directly to the compositional structure found in Laddie John Dill’s Untitled #1, 1980 from Ludy Strauss’s seminal exhibition Artist’s Quilts. Where Dill used a muted and shaded color palette, Smith uses intensely pigmented, high key colors. Where Dill’s work used traditional quiltmaking materials as a vehicle to engage with non-objective painting, Smith’s mimics the softness of cotton with his own voluminous, brittle, and mysterious non-traditional painting medium

Featured Works

Gallery Photos

Gallery Photos
Gallery Photos
Support for this exhibition has been provided by Friends of the International Quilt Museum. This exhibition was made possible through funding from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov for more information. Additional support has been provided by Agent.
Event Date
Friday, December 6, 2019 to Sunday, June 21, 2020