212GALLERY is pleased to present the fabric collages of Ai Kijima.
Ai Kijima crafts patchwork extravaganzas out of American pop culture. Following a generation of artists like Arturo Herrera, who began his career by using Disney character imagery as the raw material for a kind of subversive formalism, Ai Kijima combines the traditional hand-working technique of quilting with postmodern appropriation.
The nine candy-colored cartoonscapes on display at 212Gallery will range in scale from 20 inches to over eight feet and will absorb the viewer into their layered narratives of fantasy and subliminal associations that muse on consumerism, sexuality, superficiality and moral decay.
Scouring flea markets, garage sales and thrift stores from Asia, Europe and North America, Kijima uses disparate materials of varying iconography - a Pink Floyd T-Shirt, a Kimono, childrens' "Disney" bedding. Stitched together, Kijimas wall hangings juggle American pop culture icons with traditional Japanese symbols such as the chrysanthemum and koi.
Kijima's process is painstaking. What begins as an intuitive layering of images is then ironed to a fusible web to which she adds backing; then the sewing machine. The images bounce off one another suggesting connecting narratives. Kijima uses color-matched shiny polyester thread to sew minute stitches on the fabrics. When seen from afar, the large works, composed of hundreds of fabric pieces, appear as two-dimensional paintings. The intense, seemingly cacophonous imagery morphs into highly choreographed quilted collages. The end result is an astonishing array of beauty and intensity.
Tokyo born, Brooklyn-based artist Ai Kijima received her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL. She has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions around the world and has permanent collections at the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Charlotte, NC and the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, Chicago, IL. She was recently awarded a residency at Miami, Florida's Fountainhead Residency program.