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Stacy Isenbarger Erosion of Air

Stacy Isenbarger: Erosion of Air


The Gardiner Gallery of Art is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new and recent work by Moscow, Idaho based artist, Stacy Isenbarger titled Erosion of Air.


Stacy Isenbarger’s artworks provokes a sense of tactile memory. The media interplay between her hand stitched roots, meticulously upholstered forms, cross stitching, concrete, and stone investigate the shifting boundaries of the spaces we call home. Isenbarger doesn’t ask the viewer what home feels like, rather by reclaiming the domestic (old fabrics, clothing, carpets) and repurposing traditional sewing techniques, she defamiliarizes the notion of home, and reconstructs those familiar objects, spaces, and boundaries as affective states.


Isenbarger’s sense of space and collision of materiality, force viewer’s to confront the sentimentality of spaces. The tension between surfaces elicits a sense of loss and awe with familiar space and the air shifting around us (Holding Air: Helpless Wait), while cut tree limbs (In Tow and Gold Star for Trying) and concrete (Lost Expectations) suggest the limits of our reach.


Lost Expectations literally sets the cross-stitched words (be kind, be honest, be nice…) in stone. Once the concrete sets, words that could be sliced away with a seam ripper become permeant. Yet, even in their permeance, the yellow thread of imperatives are merely dulled: a glimmer of yellow—hope?—shines through the concrete as if asking the viewer to question which expectations they’ve gathered on their walls, which expectations need to remain entombed, and which are worthy of reclaiming with a chisel.


Woven throughout, hand-sewn velvet root forms, as in Edged Means: Threshold and Porch Song, tell subtle stories of conflicts still dwelling within us. Fractures and tension permeate Isenbarger’s tightly crafted mixed-media sculptural installations and wall-relief works. Shadows of Covid’s impact, political strain, and home-isolation endure within the exhibition space, yet the entangled expressions of fragmented upholstered forms and home furnishings suggest an undercurrent of hope.


Every edge is meticulously finished, nothing is frayed, even the wood has been cut, sharp and clean, and those clean lines suggest artifice, art, something that isn’t to be touched. Yet, the material textures invoke the need to reach out and grasp the soft velvet between your fingers and feel coarse concrete crumble at your touch. It is as if Isenbarger’s work asks us to take a breath, and inhale the very space around us, to let the distance between our surrounding and each other shrink until it is close enough to touch.

During the install of her exhibition at the gallery, Isenbarger ran a mixed-media wall relief workshop with sculpture students and presented her creative research with Sophomore and Senior professional development classes.

Stacy Isenbarger is a Foundations Coordinator and Associate Professor of Art + Design at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID where she celebrates her opportunities to explore creative communication and empowerment. She received her BFA at Clemson University & her MFA from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia—two places she has tremendous gratitude for especially in regard to how both experiences shaped her approach to teaching. When she's not teaching or making—and sometimes when she is—she's usually dancing since the act continuously validates her joy of community acceptance and shaking up space. Isenbarger a member of the Confluence Lab which engages in creative interdisciplinary research projects focused on environmental issues impacting rural communities primarily in the Pacific Northwest.


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