The closest thing to skin
Tight. Stressed. Taut. All those meanings play into “Tense,” a clever group show of mostly fiber art by recent graduates of Massachusetts College of Art and Design at Fort Point Arts Community Gallery. Fiber stretches and pulls; we can wrap ourselves in it. It’s the closest thing to skin.
Two hooks on chains claw into Marissa Cote’s “Wait/Weight,” a red and orange weaving, snapping the cloth taut and dragging it down. The title suggests time as a burden (“tense,” the noun, denotes time). In another work by Cote, orange and red threads stand for two people. Here, similar threads weave into a single fabric — a relationship, and one that’s being pulled out of shape by an outside force.
One gloss on much of the tension here is romantic angst. Sophie Pratt stretches her silk organza “Infatuation” against the wall with bungee cords. Using melting ice and acid dyes, Pratt stained the silk with washes as pink as a yearning heart, yet as fading and illusory as an unrealized crush. She fastens it to the wall like a butterfly for examination.
Playing with ideas of the body and femininity, Courtney Stock folds a pillow into the shape of a torso, stuffs it in plastic like your grandma’s couch, and outfits it with a lacy bra, calling it “Baby.” A dried hydrangea falls provocatively into its lap, imbuing the work with an elegiac tone. The men and women in Mel Taing’s dreamy photographic images make the exhibit’s thematic link between textiles and human skin explicit: skin pulls, women are obscured by gossamer — flesh and fabric as veils of the soul and tools of disguise.
Danielle M. Potwin’s “Ir/repressible” finds tension between containment and explosion. She sews together red vinyl rectangles with tufty lengths of unspun silk. The materials oppose each other: synthetic versus organic, smooth versus flocculent. Protuberances strain beneath the vinyl. The covering may not hold; secrets will out.
“Tense,” while intentionally discomforting, also feels bright, earnest, and a little raw, like the work of newly minted artists. That’s tense, too, of course — rough edges that in time will be sanded down.
At Fort Point Arts Community Gallery, 300 Summer St., through Jan. 10. 617-423-4299, www.fortpointarts.org