The New York Times
‘Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community’
Art in Review
Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, near Grand Street, SoHo
Through March 16
“Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community” takes you places that you and your sewing never thought to go. The exhibition’s organizer, John Chaich, an independent curator, posits fiber art as the ideal lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender medium, it being feminine-masculine, high-low and, at least in the context of this judiciously racy show, naughty-nice.
For starters, there’s quite a bit of history, some of it art history. A 1950s needlepoint image of two nude, lounging men, by Allen Porter, brings Paul Cadmus and pre-Stonewall days to mind. And a free-hanging 2013 black macramé piece by the South African artist Pierre Fouché turns a figure from a Dutch Mannerist painting into a contemporary political protester.
Liz Collins knits a potentially endless version of Gilbert Baker’s 1978 original rainbow pride flag, and L. J. Roberts, with the help of Buzz Slutzky and Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky, stops the show with a crazy assemblage that maps queer collectives in Brooklyn. Officials at the Smithsonian American Art Museum bought the piece, and good for them.
Rebecca Levi contributes a same-sex portrait in cotton; the estimable James Gobel has one in felt; and the Argentine team of Chiachio & Giannone does one in jewelry thread. Jai Andrew Carrillo comes through with a denim-and-lace self-portrait. And the Atlanta-based Aubrey Longley-Cook, in collaboration with a community group he teaches, has (somehow) combined cross-stitching with video animation to produce a kinetic RuPaul.
Other unusual media? John Thomas Paradiso stitches pansies on leather in what looks like petit point. And Sheila Pepe, channeling early feminist art, does a virtuosic crochet work with shoelaces in a wall piece called “Your Granny’s Not Square.”
The prize for the sweetest piece goes to “Now and Then (Rainbow Order)” by the great Larry Krone, who sews together bits of crotchet that he picks up in bargain stores across the country to make a grass-roots affair symbolically queer.
Most ambitious entry? No contest: Nathan Vincent’s walk-in, life-size installation called “Locker Room,” in which every component — lockers, shower stands, urinals, benches — is a masterwork of crochet. As I said, places you never thought you and your thimble would go. But go.
A version of this review appears in print on February 21, 2014, on page C27 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community’