Lena WolffBerkeley, CA
My practice is informed by American folk art, anthropomorphic fables, craft traditions and the natural world. For the last several years, I’ve worked primarily on paper, using methodical approaches borrowed from textile processes and quilt making. These collages incorporate a variety of surface manipulations including pinpricks, minute hole-punched papers and layers of hand painted paper cuts that resemble appliqué. In making these works, the paper is handled as if it were fabric, using needles and often joining multiple panels of paper together to make large-scale “paper quilts.” The labor-intensive and hand-driven process is tactile, meditative and intimate. Many of the collages make a connection to narrative textile traditions that have a lineage of carrying encoded messages and telling symbolic stories.
Recently, I've been exploring abstract drawings, light sculptures and installations rooted in the geometries and iconic patterns of early American quilts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When pairing down to hone in on these patterns and forms, I’m still interested in revealing a kind of dynamic organization that involves rhythm and repetition and a sense of aliveness that’s prevalent in the images with more organic imagery. In these new pieces, the effect of eye catching and mesmerizing pattern and color relationships are central to the compositions. This current work alludes to the labor and love of handcraft and also makes historical connections across time and between disciplines of artistic practice.
In addition to my studio work, I'm also interested in social practice and public engagement. Over the years I’ve worked with communities and other artists on a range of collaborative projects. The Paper Quilt Project, which was exhibited at tbe Berkeley Art Center in 2011, is my most current large-scale collaborative effort.
Lena Wolff is an interdisciplinary Bay Area artist whose work is rooted in American folk art and craft traditions. Known primarily for her intricately detailed and tactile paper collages, Wolff also works in light sculpture, printmaking, social practice and public art projects. Her most recent work incorporates iconography based on geometric patterns and forms drawn from early American quilt making. Wolff's work is in the public art collections of the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Alameda County Arts Commission and the Cleveland Clinic, among others. She is an Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute and a current member of the Drawing Center's Viewing Program in New York.
Wolff lives with her partner, artist and teacher Miriam Klein Stahl and their daughter in Berkeley, California.