Eckert Fine Art presents “I Studied Design in Grade School” -Sidney Russell

Eckert Fine Art, a gallery specializing in Postwar and Contemporary art, based in North Adams, Massachusetts on the campus of MASS MoCA is pleased to present “I Studied Design in Grade School” by artist Sidney Russell. Sidney Russell is an artist based in San Francisco, California whose work reflects the Bay Area’s unique legacy through her experimentation with materials and the interplay between painting, sculpture, and large sewn pieces in fabric. Her use of humor and acute criticism of culture makes artwork which reflects the age in which we live. Her past experience as a Scenic Artist for the San Francisco Opera and Ballet had a transformative effect on her own art practice, and had a profound influence on her current work, especially the clothing in monumental scale, which is part of the current exhibition at EFA.

“I am an artist working in different mediums. I make large clothing. The clothing pieces are portraits of people I know and of myself. They are, at the same time, general and very specific, common and unique. They are universal. Clothing and wearable objects, such as a tool belt or a work glove are the commonest everyday objects you can think of, but they are, to me, something which is attached to a specific time, day, or memory. My art is given meaning by its very large scale and by the painting on them and brilliant colors, designs and patterns. These pieces are full of meaning for me. They contain memories such as a red dress I wore to a prom as a teenager, when I felt free and that possibilities in life were endless. The freedom I felt to dance and move around and feel the absence of restraint and restrictions for the first time in my life was intoxicating. I associate that red dress with that time in my life, the boldness and exaggerated euphoria of youth. I have remade that dress in bold, superhuman scale to emphasize the feeling I had then which I never forgot.

Similarly, the hiking boot is made from the memory of the freedom to move in nature. The effort to climb to peaks and hike trails in Yosemite gave me an inexpressible joy in my life. The goal for me is to give these common objects ambiguity or something mysterious and unknowable. I wish to create a mystery in a common, ordinary object. The meaning is what the viewer brings to it. The object is made important by the viewer looking at it as if for the first time. Clues to the meaning of these pieces are the scale and
the color, the brilliance of the hues. Clothing in your closet is the march of time. It is the memories of times in your life, what you did and what you wore. My making of this art is taking stock of our days as they progress one after another.” In addition to “I Studied Design in Grade School” at Eckert Fine Art gallery, Sidney Russell will also have
an exhibition this fall titled “The Big Stitch” at the Zillman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Maine in Bangor, Maine.


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