FORT WORTH, Texas—The Amon Carter Museum of American Art has commissioned Dallas-based artist Gabriel Dawe (b. 1973) to create an artwork made with more than 80 miles of multi-colored thread in the museum’s Atrium. The art installation, titled Plexus no. 34, will be created onsite, highlighting the architecture of the museum’s renowned Philip Johnson-designed building. The large-scale artwork is composed of 18 colors and is a visual interpretation of the full spectrum of natural light. It opens August 16, 2016, and will be on view for two years until September 2, 2018. Admission is free.
The installation of the work, one of the artist’s largest to date, at the Amon Carter begins in early August and will take approximately two weeks. Dawe will bring a mapped-out plan of which color threads go where and will work in a specific order, constructing the piece in layers.
“Once the artwork is installed, it will look as if Gabriel created a natural phenomenon of rainbow light and mist in the Atrium,” says associate curator Maggie Adler. “In reality he hooks ordinary, industrial sewing thread from wall to wall in a repeating overlay to create this extraordinary optical illusion.”
The artist has been creating “indoor rainbows” for the last five years as part of his series called Plexus, which is the word for the network of nerves or vessels running through the body. This title broadly refers to the intricate network of threads forming the artwork, but the artist’s intent is to “materialize light, to give it density, so that I can offer the viewer an approximation of things otherwise inaccessible to us—a glimmer of hope that brings us closer to the transcendent,” Dawe says. In the Plexus series, he explores the connection between fashion and architecture, and how they relate to the human need for shelter in all its shapes and forms. His work is centered in the exploration of textiles, aiming to examine the complicated construction of gender and identity in his native Mexico, where as a boy, he was not allowed to learn the craft of needlework handed down through generations.
Adler believes museum visitors will be captivated by this new medium in the museum’s Atrium.
“A rainbow is nature’s way of drawing our attention to the everyday beauty around us, and Gabriel has constructed one for us,” she says. “So often, we forget to stop, to let wonder overtake us. We hope our visitors will take the time to pause, look up and soak in this ethereal work.”
Dawe lived in Montreal for seven years before moving to Dallas in 2008. He earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in 2011. For the final two years of his degree, he was an artist in residence at CentralTrak, the Artist in Residency program at UTD. Since then, he has exhibited works across the United States, including the newly renovated Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, as well as in Belgium, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In 2013, the Amon Carter began showing the work of living Texas artists in the Atrium in order to expand the notion of what American art is in the 21st century. Dawe is the fourth artist to be featured, following Sedrick Huckaby, Benito Huerta and Esther Pearl Watson.
“It is the 15-year anniversary of the completion of the museum’s Atrium, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with this wondrous work by this up-and-coming local artist,” says Andrew J. Walker, director of the museum. “We can’t wait to see the finished work and share it with our visitors. It is certain to be a crowd pleaser.”
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Amon Carter is producing a limited-edition artist book, which will be available in the Museum Store in September. The artist will speak at a free program on April 20, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Please check the museum’s website for information as the date gets closer.
Gabriel Dawe: Plexus no. 34 is supported by Suzanne M. Bahan; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Camille R. Comeau and Jay H. Hebert; Kathleen Hicks; High Access Solutions; Betty Krulik Fine Art; Brooke (Boo) Lively; Mr. and Mrs. John G. Ripperton; the William T. & Gay F. Solomon Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas; and a gift in memory of Herbert S. Adler. The artist is represented by Conduit Gallery in Dallas.
The Amon Carter offers a renowned collection of American art housed in Philip Johnson’s masterpiece in the heart of Fort Worth's Cultural District. The museum is open Tuesday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursdays until 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12–5 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays.