Carol Wisker has been what she calls an "obsessive sew-er" since she was a teenager: The patterns on the fabric, the endless details in the fibers, and the feel of the textures under her fingers are still a form of rarefied bliss to her. And, now at 62, she's attempting to share that simple pleasure with her audience.
Her latest collection of fabric sculptures, "Densities," will open this week at 3rd Street Gallery. "I wanted to make sculpture with form, but almost more important to me is that they're sensual to touch," she says from her home in Bala Cynwyd. "I love things like velvet. Or moss. Just take a second to consider all the things that are floating in a body of water. I love how tangible these things are to us."
The 12 pieces in the show range in size from about three feet in diameter down to 12 inches, constructed - somewhat obsessively - down to the microfiber of the material. Among Wisker's favorites are hand-tufted furniture piping and recycled T-shirts. There is a circular quality to these freeform sculptures, and - although the themes of environmental destruction are present - Whisker has discovered a distinctly feminine quality in this collection. She's not shy about it, either.
When describing the title piece of the collection, she says: "Well, it's like a vulva, but I'm not sure your readers want to read about that," she says with a big laugh. "But I try not to think about any specific object when I'm working. I'm more about dealing with the surface and textures, as opposed to recreating an object. It just happened to take that shape."
At the PMA Before her retirement in 2002, Carol Wisker curated numerous exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art featuring artwork by incarcerated Pennsylvanians. And, for over a decade, she led the PMA's effort to make the museum more accessible for people with disabilities.
By Bruce Walsh, published: April 29, 2013