Dry roasted peanut wrappers, old match books and soap boxes, these are just a few of artist Nicola Ginzel’s favorite things. They are items she transforms into art.
A collection of Ginzel’s work will be on display at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art beginning today.
“I take everyday ephemera,” Ginzel said. “It could be this page that you’re writing on, and I transform that or a wrapper or a matchbox.”
Ginzel said it’s things used for a specific purpose and then discarded or forgotten about that she likes to use for transformation.
“It’s the sense of trying to erase the identity of it,” she said. “And I’m doing that with thread, so I’m covering up the text and the graphics using the same color thread as the background. So it’s almost becoming like a color field.”
All of the threadwork on Ginzel’s pieces she does by hand, no sewing machine involved. She said most of the items she takes are mass produced, things made quickly. Then she takes the simple but time-consuming process of sewing and rubbing to transform the piece into something new.
“I’m taking these things that are quickly made, and I’m turning them the other way around with my process, which is a very slow, time-consuming process,” Ginzel said.
Ginzel’s work has been exhibited both in the U.S. and abroad, and Stephanie Qualls, curator of exhibitions at the museum, said they are excited to host Ginzel.
“We are thrilled to have her art here,” Qualls said. “Absolutely thrilled.”
This will be the first exhibit in Alabama for Ginzel, who lives in New York City.
The exhibit, called Nicola Ginzel: Language, Symbol, Artifact will run through Friday, March 8. The artist will give a gallery talk explaining the process when the exhibit opens at 1 p.m. today.
Some of the pieces Ginzel is showing are monochromatic, while some of her earlier work explores that theme with a variety of colors.
And with some of the pieces, Ginzel takes the piece and does a rubbing — or frottage.
She places a fabric or sometimes paper over the work she has sewn over and rubs graphite, oil stick or wax over the piece, leaving the imprint of the older work.
“So here you can see part of the M&Ms wrapper,” Ginzel said, pointing to a piece she describes as being similar to a scroll or an old manuscript.
“That is what I did with the actual pieces that I transformed with thread, I put them underneath the fabric and I did a rubbing. So you can see how these two things play off of each other.”
Other pieces of Ginzel’s work are made anew with gold leaf and metallic thread, and they have the feel of a religious icon or old religious art. That’s intentional, Ginzel said.
“It’s almost like a play that consumerism is on the level of religion,” Ginzel said.
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.