Stephanie Metz: Figurative Fiber
February 23, 2019 – June 9, 2019
Stephanie Metz creates biomorphic abstract sculptures that explore the tension created when opposing qualities coexisit.
In 17th and 18th century Europe, cabinets of curiosities were small collections of extraordinary objects that told stories about the wonders and oddities of the natural world. Artifacts like bones, plants, and butterflies could be found in these displays. Today, San Jose-based artist Stephanie Metz investigates the natural world through the creation of imaginary and bewildering creatures and objects. Figurative Fiber presents works throughout Metz’s career, showing the myriad of ways in which she works with wool to create detailed, complex, and mysterious forms that defy their humble origins.
Metz creates sculptures with densely felted wool, which she manipulates into tight, precise forms. Metz marries the recognizable with the alien to create uncanny forms that reference bone structure, soft folds of skin, and hair. The juxtaposition of familiar and foreign allows the sculptures to hover in the ambiguous space between organic and industrial, hard and soft, fragile and robust, creating the phenomenon of surprise, curiosity, and fascination.
Figurative Fiber presents works from multiple series that investigate the relationship between humans and other living organisms. In the Overbred series, creatures represent domestication taken to ridiculous extremes; Amorphozoa consists of animal forms simplified to minimal shapes, appearing both cuddly and alarming; works in her Unnatural History series present teddy bear physiology via pseudo-scientific specimens; and Avicular sculptures present birdlike forms abstracted in wool and hair. Sculptures from the Flesh and Bone series dramatically blend together the hardest and softest parts of the human body. Calamus, which is Latin for quill, contrasts sharp, pointed quills with soft wool, where as Loricae juxtaposes hard and soft by blending chain-link metals with wool. The Pelts (Clothing and Hair) series stems from Metz’s experience of becoming a mother and identifying with mammal qualities and instincts to nurture her children.
Stephanie Metz has been featured in publications including San Jose’s Content Magazine, Adobe Inspire Magazine, American Craft, and 500 Felt Objects. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in exhibitions throughout Europe, Australia, and Asia. In 2015, Silicon Valley Creates honored Metz as an Artist Laureate. She is the recipient of a Belle Foundation for Cultural Development grant as well as two Center for Cultural Innovation grants. She has taught at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee.
Stephanie Metz: Figurative Fiber is supported in part by ICA Members.