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James Watrous Gallery – MEND: The Work of Repair

Thursday10/1912:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Friday10/2012:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Saturday10/2111:00 am - 5:00 pm

Sunday10/2212:00 pm - 5:00 pm

There is so much in the wider world that needs repair right now. It can feel impossible to respond in a meaningful way, or even identify the tools and skills that could make a difference. But small, close-to-home efforts do matter. Whether it’s fixing a wheelchair, restoring a wetland, mending pants or mending a heart, the quiet work of repair sends out ripples of hope.

MEND features textile works by Heidi Parkes and sculpture by Glenn Williams, Siara Berry, Sylvie Rosenthal and Jaymee Harvey Willms, artists whose work touches on diverse aspects of mending and repair. Heidi Parkes’ wonderfully idiosyncratic hand-sewn quilts are often imbued with the work of emotional or physical healing. She also offers mending for family, friends and clients, using bold, expressive stitches that transform well-worn clothing into wearable works of art. Glenn Williams’ poignant Prosthetic series explores the complexity and the limitations of assistive devices which, while transformative for users, can also present their own challenges. His architectural works reflect the seemingly intractable challenge of housing insecurity with admirable economy, quietly underlining both the injustice and the obvious solution for the unhoused.

Siara Berry also offers a critique of American housing systems, incorporating real estate signs and welcome mats to raise questions about access, affordability and other barriers to home ownership. Her sculptures of brooms, mops, and dustpans address messy household situations with a more personal lens. With multiple handles and forms or materials that frustrate their function, they conjure both the effort it takes to resolve an unsettled domesticity and the need to work together to repair old conflicts.

Sylvie Rosenthal is grappling with a sculpture of huge wooden hands she made years ago that recently came back to her studio. Its commission was severely complicated by an old, unhealthy relationship, and getting it back unearthed a tangle of feelings. Rather than bury the piece in deep storage, Rosenthal has embraced the opportunity to refurbish and reclaim it. This act of physical and emotional mending is a natural adjunct to her practice: she also teaches classes in repairing and altering old furniture.

For Jaymee Harvey Willms, a personal tragedy led her to shift from painting to sculpture, breaking and reworking found objects in a conscious project of mending her family’s experience. Willms’ mended lamps are lopsided melanges of bric-a-brac laced with scars, yet they have a peculiar grace; and they work, shining light on the possibility of renewal and repair.

We hope this exhibition will inspire you to consider the repairs that could be made in your own lives and communities, one step — or one stitch — at a time.

Gallery Hours
Thurs-Fri 12-6 • Sat 11-5 • Sun 12-5
(Special Hours for Science on the Square 10/19 5-9p)

Event Type:
Open House/Tour


James Watrous Gallery (Overture Center for the Arts, 3rd Floor)
201 State Street
Madison, WI 53703 United States


Wisconsin Academy for Sciences, Arts & Letters
Wisconsin Academy for Sciences, Arts & Letters

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