Murmur 2001
Joanne Marion,Curator Medicine Hat Museum & Art Gallery
     Amy Loewan has searched for – and found – an apt metaphor in the materials and methods used to create her installation, A Peace Project. Eight large suspended works are imbued with the eight values Amy Loewan considers vital to the creation of a peaceful world: compassion, kindness, respect, understanding, patience, tolerance, gentleness and forgiveness.
     Weaving is an almost universal method of binding, of creating something larger from smaller components, of bringing resilience and strength to impermanent materials. Something woven can easily travel, can be nomadic, transported, folded, rolled. It is a method of construction which speaks of ingenuity, of something from nothing, of the modest made to serve. Weaving lies somewhat outside the canon of modernism in art history, because of its links to craft and domesticity, its utilitarianism, its ties with the activities of women and aboriginal cultures. Nor are its materials usually imbued with the permanence of, say, bronze – which bears within it the assumption that the object is meant to stand outside time, to be of historical importance.
     It would be misleading, however, to suggest that Amy Loewan’s work is not aimed at historical importance, but the very medium and technique signal a quite different idea of what that might be. On the delicate, interlaced strips of rice paper is printed Loewan’s message. It’s a coded message: the words, in both electronically produced type and ink-brushed calligraphy, are printed horizontally and vertically depending on the language, (in itself creating a satisfying geographical allusion of north to south, west to east), interrupted by other words of the same meaning in 30 different languages. The shifting of words under and over each other becomes a steady visual murmur, thousands of signals mingling over airwaves of paper.
     The work involved in weaving these rice paper tapestries is just that – labour, and plenty of it – but as with much repetitive labour, there is also a spiritual element to it, a meditative focus, which speaks not so much of inspiration as determination and belief, carried through time. This laboriousness of construction requires time also of the viewer, in reading and tracing and decoding the messages. The harmonious simplicity of the hangings, when viewed from a distance, is like the order of chaos – the patterning of nature – revealing increasing detail and complexity the more closely it is examined.
Back to A Peace Project