Amanda McCavour installation now on view at Chazen Museum of Art

To commemorate the Chazen Museum of Art’s 50th anniversary, Toronto-based artist Amanda McCavour created an installation in Paige Court, the heart of the museum’s original 1970 Elvehjem building. 

McCavour, who works with fabric and stitching to create large-scale embroidered installations, developed a new site-specific work in response to the collection and history of the Chazen Museum of Art and UW–Madison. The Amanda McCavour installation will challenge the visual weight and dominating presence of the design and travertine marble of the Elvehjem building. 

Suspended Landscapes went on view March 11 and can be seen through September 11, 2022.

Image credit: Chazen Museum of Art/Eric Baillies
Image credit: Chazen Museum of Art/Eric Baillies

“The Elvehjem Building was where our museum began, during a time of great national turmoil,” Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen, said. “Amanda McCavour’s work has an assumed vulnerability, yet it also possesses great strength. Her work will offer a remarkable transformation of that space and reflection of our collection. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate all that has changed, and all that hasn’t, at the Chazen during the museum’s first 50 years.”

McCavour’s work is often described as drawing with thread. By sewing into fabric that dissolves in water, McCavour builds up stitched lines on a temporary surface. When the fabric is dissolved, the thread drawing holds together without a base. The crossing threads possess an unexpected strength that counters the appearance of fragility. To present these thread drawings on a monumental scale, McCavour has printed them on rolls of sheer fabric that will hang from the fourth floor and terminate in Paige Court.

During research trips, McCavour visited the botany department, the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, and the UW Libraries’ Special Collections and studied native plant specimens held in the Wisconsin State Herbarium [https://herbarium.wisc.edu/about/] and botanical works from the Chazen’s collection. In addition to the Amanda McCavour installation, she will also curate a presentation of the artwork on campus that inspired her planning, alongside her own preparatory drawings, materials and the original thread drawings used to create the sheer fabric panels. Items drawn from the permanent collection include works on paper such as rare watercolors of flowers by Salvador Dalí.

Detail, preparatory thread drawing for Suspended Landscapes. Courtesy Amanda McCavour.
Detail, preparatory thread drawing for Suspended Landscapes. Courtesy Amanda McCavour.

About Amanda McCavour

Amanda McCavour holds a BFA from York University, and an MFA in Fibers and Material Studies from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. 

She shows her work nationally and internationally and has received awards and scholarships from the Ontario Crafts Council, The Handweavers and Spinners Guild of America, The Ontario Society of Artists, The Surface Design Association and The Embroiderers Guild of America.

ABOUT THE CHAZEN

Image credit: Chazen Museum of Art/Eric Baillies
Image credit: Chazen Museum of Art/Eric Baillies

The Chazen Museum of Art makes its home between two lakes on the beautiful campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Within walking distance of the state capitol, it sits squarely in the heart of a vibrant college town. Featuring one of the best views on campus, an art-filled bridge connects the historic Elvehjem building, built in 1970, with the Chazen building, built in 2011. This connection represents both a physical and intellectual joining of human art history and the most dynamic artistic explorers of today.

With a permanent collection of more than 23,000 objects, from vessels of ancient Greece to prints by Kara Walker, the Chazen is the second largest museum in Wisconsin. Two expansive buildings encompass 163,000+ square feet, making it the largest collecting museum in the Big Ten. More than 100,000 visitors come through the Chazen’s doors each year to enjoy the permanent collection and special exhibitions. The Chazen is the most-open museum among its peers, with open hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Admission is free for all and includes programs for students, families and community members, all provided with the museum’s unique brand of Wisconsin hospitality.

More information, including the schedule of visiting exhibitions and events, can be found at www.chazen.wisc.edu.

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