S T A T E  P R

browngrotta arts presents

Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades


May 2-10, 2020

Artist and Opening Reception: Saturday, May  2, 1pm - 6pm 

Exhibition Hours: May 3 - May 10, 10am - 5pm daily

"The catalogs produced by browngrotta arts, and the photography therein, have become so superior, they are an important part of our literature.” - Jack Lenor Larsen, author, curator, and textile designer.


browngrotta arts is pleased to announce their Spring 2020 “Art in the Barn” exhibition Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades a retrospective celebration of 50 print catalogs on fiber and modern craft published by browngrotta arts that will accompany an exhibition of work by 60 important artists of fiber, ceramics, and mixed media, who have helped define modern craft movement since the 1950s. The exhibition will be on view from May 2 -10. 


The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of their 50th catalog of the same title, Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades

A forerunner in the field, browngrotta arts has been dedicated to researching, documenting and raising awareness of fiber and modern craft art through exhibitions and catalogs for over 30 years. They published their first catalog as a pamphlet in 1990, Markku Kosonen: Baskets and Woodwork, which included 27 black-and-white photographs. The 50 catalogs since have collectively recorded a narrative of modern craft and contributed in no small feat to preserving the continuity of the field.

This archival documentation has not only permitted their pioneering exhibitions, which are ephemeral in nature, to enter into the canon, but provides a rare historical insight and a unique chronicle of an often-overlooked art field that is currently enjoying a renaissance. As fiber art gains renewed recognition and reappraisal from major institutions, the browngrotta arts archive, in which works by Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach, Magdalena Abakanowicz and many others are showcased, is an invaluable resource. 


"There are a few catalogs that go beyond the intellect to convey the spirit of the exhibition objects. The fine images of browngrotta arts’ publications capture the dimension of the objects, something often lacking, yet totally necessary to the appreciation of fiber. Their publications seem to consistently engage much more than readers’ minds,” wrote Lotus Stack, then-Curator of Textiles at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1999. 


When browngrotta arts founders, Tom Grotta and Rhonda Brown began promoting artists in the late 1980s they discovered two important facts about the field. First, at that time, before digital printing, galleries and museums rarely had the budget to document their exhibitions in a catalog or book. Second, regardless of the medium, when catalogs were prepared, the works were photographed like paintings: two lights at 45-degree angles, dimension and detail obscured.

Grotta set out with the intention to resolve this disparity and began an annual cataloging program recording exhibitions, artists, and works through photography that specifically captured to the tactile and haptic characteristics of fiber and craft art. While the first catalogs were modest, black-and-white pamphlets, Grotta photographed the work with reference to scale and shape from the outset, and in the case of fiber art, a sensitivity to conveying the work’s organic and haptic qualities and unique materials. This approach allowed for an immersive experience of the works, one that extended beyond the time and geography limitations of the exhibitions.

As technology developed, the browngrotta arts catalogs were printed in four-color, grew in size and came to include essayists and authors of stature. By 1998, Art of Substance (#21) included an essay by renowned architect David Ling and won an American Graphic Design USA Award. Last year’s art + identity: an international view (#49) was 156 pages and featured the work of more than five dozen artists with an essay by art scholar Jessica Hemmings, PhD. 


The upcoming 50th catalog will continue browngrotta arts’ tradition, featuring dozens of full-color photos and an essay by Glenn Adamson, noted author and former Director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

Select titles include: Markku Kosonen Baskets and Woodwork (#1), 1990 - 27 black and white photographs; Changing Shapes Basketwork by Mary Merkel-Hess (#2), 1992, 29 black and white photographs; Claude Vermette (#4), 1992 - 34 black and white photographs with the first color photo cover;  Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal (#6), 1993 - 35 photos black and white with 2-sided color cover; Mariette Rousseau-Vermette (#7), 1993 - 31 color photos; Helena Hernmarck and Markku Kosonen (#10), 1994 - 37 color photos (although the cover is black and white); Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan (#13),  1996 - 64 color photos, commentary by Sheila Hicks; Art of Substance (#21) Essay by architect David Ling, 1998 - all color, 43 photos Winner of an American Graphic Design USA Award; Tradition Transformed: Contemporary Japanese textile art & fiber sculpture (#22), 1999, all color, 54 photos of 63 works featuring work by artists who were included in “Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Lenore Tawney: celebrating five decades of work (#28), 2000, 61 color photos; Lia Cook: In the Folds– Works from 1973-1997 (#36), 2007, 40 color photos; Ethel Stein: Weaver (#37), 2008, 48 color photos.

The range of works on view at the exhibition will include woven vessels, three-dimensional sculptures made of paper, wood jute, wax linen, cotton, gold leaf, steel, ceramic, fiber-optic, and basket forms of bark and twigs, jasmine and bamboo, willow and cedar. A number of artists have created wall works of linen, viscose, steel, cotton, horsehair, fish scales and in one case, silk from silkworm raised by the artists. The techniques are as varied as the materials -- weaving, plaiting, knotting, molding, ikat, tying, bundling, crochet and katagami.

Participating artists include:

James Bassler (United States), Dail Behennah (United Kingdom), Lia Cook (United States), Włodzimierz Cygan (Poland), Ferne Jacobs (United States), Christine Joy (United States), Naomi Kobayashi (Japan), Rachel Max (United Kingdom), John McQueen (United States), Lija Rage (Latvia), Toshio Sekiji (Japan), Hisako Sekijima (Japan), Karyl Sisson (United States), Aleksandra Stoyanov (Ukraine/Israel), Chang Yeonsoon (Korea). 


Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades is part of browngrotta arts’ “Art in the Barn” series - an annual 9-day exhibition held in a barn built in 1895 and expanded and contemporized by architect David Ling. Over 3500-square feet of space with a viewing vista of 55’ allows for experiencing works that reflect complex illusionary space.

The exhibition will be on view from May 3-10, 2020 from 10am - 5pm daily. An opening and artists reception and will take place at browngrotta arts on Saturday, May 2, from 1pm - 6pm.

browngrotta arts is located at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT, accessible from New York via Metro-North on the New Haven Line to South Norwalk transferring to the Danbury Line to Wilton Station. For driving directions click here




About browngrotta arts 

For over 30 years, browngrotta arts has been advancing the field of contemporary fiber arts by curating and exhibiting renowned contemporary artists who celebrate the exploration of fiber art techniques and drive the unique possibilities of soft materials. Representing many of the artists who have helped define modern fiber art since the 1950s, browngrotta arts reflects the cultivated eye and intellect of its directors, husband and wife team, Tom Grotta and Rhonda Brown. 


Founded in 1987 in Wilton, Connecticut, browngrotta arts showcases unique sculptural and mixed media works with an emphasis on concept, supported by technique. The focus of the work is on the materials and the technical mastery of the artist as intrinsic to the significance of the work, prioritizing aesthetic value over utility. Museum-quality artworks by more than 100 international artists are represented through art catalogs, art fairs, co-partnered exhibits at museums, retail spaces, and an online gallery. 


Each Spring, the couple opens their private home - a two-story barn built in 1895 expanded and contemporized by architect David Ling in 2000 - for “Art in the Barn”, a unique annual salon-style exhibition for 10 days. Over 3500-square feet of space with a viewing vista of 55’ allows for experiencing works that reflect complex illusionary space. The 21’  high ceilings permit the installation of tall sculptures and two free-standing walls enable dramatically shaped fiber structures best hung off the wall. The living environment also grants the artwork to be shown in situ. 


browngrotta arts has published nearly 50 art catalogs and placed works in private and corporate collections in the US and abroad, including the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum. They also regularly work with architects and interior designers offering consultation for commissioned artworks and site-specific installation for commercial and residential spaces. A selection of works is on view and available for sales inquiries at browngrotta.com

Tom Grotta graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a fine arts degree in photography. He has been recognized for his extensive knowledge of contemporary art textiles and fiber sculpture and his photography of fiber art. He has lectured on these subjects at museums and art programs in New York, California, Hawaii and elsewhere. Grotta’s art photographs are included in several private collections, that of the Serralves Museum of Art in Portugal and numerous magazines and books,  including Toshiko Takaezu: Earth and Bloom (University of Hawaii Press, 2007), California's Designing Women 1896-1986 (Museum of California Design, 2013), Fiber Sculpture, 1960 - Present (Prestel, 2014), Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) and Tapestry: A Woven Narrative (Black Dog Publishing, 2012). He photographed and designed The Grotta House by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft (Arnoldsche, 2019).


Rhonda Brown works as an attorney for a publishing company in Manhattan and at browngrotta arts, managing editor for the catalogs, its blog www.arttextstyle.com, and online content. She is the co-author of Making Room: Strategies for Small Spaces (Perigee, 1983). Her writing on textile arts has appeared in several exhibition catalogs and publications including selvedge; Fiberarts; NBO Quarterly Review and Weston Magazine.

For more information, visit www.browngrotta.com

View/download high-resolution images here.

All photos by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts. Not to be published without prior permission.

For all media inquiries, contact State Public Relations at (646) 714 - 2520 or browngrotta@statepr.com