October 29 - December 5, 2004
Karen Reimer’s new embroidery work continues her practice of creating intricate but inefficient simulations of everyday ephemera. Previously, Reimer’s labor-intensive production of the embroidered copy made the original material partially or completely illegible and transferred the specific meaning of the original into an ambiguous visual pattern. In Boundary Troubles, she continues her investigation by meticulously attempting to recreate the mass produced and seemingly insignificant details of the world, attempts that eventually add up to a blurry sense of the larger relationships that entail there.
In her new series of pattern-based work, Reimer plays off the implied endlessness of pattern by embroidering the figures of one fabric onto another. Sewing together pieces of fabric whose patterns have differing, sometimes conflicting, cultural associations of class, taste, gender, fashion era, and other domestic or social territories, the competing logic of each pattern dominates, transmutes, blends in or disappears. These mergings can be read as metaphors of infection or invasion, or as attempts to make wholes out of disparate parts. In any case, the results are inevitably incomplete and unresolved rather than neat coherent syntheses, and, as with much of Reimer’s work, the amount of labor invested raises the question of whether such attempts are misguided or optimistic.
Reimer continues her investigation of pattern in another series based on notebook pages. Whereas much of her earlier work focused on re-creations of text, now the “text” becomes the sewn lines on the empty page, making the visual structure for the writing into the writing itself. Boundary Troubles is another exercise in order gone amok, order that doesn’t know its boundaries, limitations or purpose.
Karen Reimer received her MFA from the University of Chicago in 1989. Her work is currently included in the exhibition “Stalemate” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, curated by Dominic Molon, and was recently included in “Baltimore/Chicago” at the Maryland Institute of Art, curated by Kerry James Marshall. Reviews of her work have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Art in America, and Chicago Tribune. In 2002, Reimer was the recipient of both the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Grant and The Art Council (now Artadia) Chicago Grants for Individual Artists .