Hianes Gallery, Social Abstraction Artist Focus: Lena Wolff
Artist Focus: Lena Wolff
Installation views of Social Abstraction at Haines Gallery. Photos: Robert Divers Herrick
Lena Wolff is an artist, craftswoman, and activist for democracy whose interdisciplinary practice merges craft traditions with geometric abstraction, feminist, and political art. Her works are currently on view at Haines in the group exhibition Social Abstraction, through October 29, 2022.
Drawing from American quilt iconography—a medium steeped in history and political potential—Wolff investigates the transformative power of shape and symbol. In each work, geometrically-derived quilting patterns, passed down and shared for generations are combined with natural and cosmic imagery, as well as the artist’s own symbols for democracy, equality, and justice—an index of a shared visual language and a vision of a more just future.
"I wanted to walk in the footsteps of these makers who came before me, and make work that felt less individual and more part of a collective body of iconography."
Wolff composes the hand-cut paper collage Circular Path, variation #3 through the improvised, irregular repetition of a single form, enacting the work of quilt-makers, while Cabinet replicates a sampler quilt, with 56 uniquely patterned squares. Her wall-hung wood sculptures, based on the eight-pointed star pattern, combine the woodworking techniques of marquetry, parquetry and inlay.
Wolff is a recent recipient of the Kala Art Institute Artist Fellowship. A Pattern Language (variation #1), 2022, on view at Kala through September 30 in the exhibition Forever Was Never Till Now, comprises 72 unique concrete squares. Through its form and material, this concrete "quilt" upends associations of masculinity and femininity, craft and art, the interior and exterior.
Lena Wolff’s has been exhibited and collected by museums including the Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Cleveland Clinic, OH; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; Headlands Center for the Arts, Marin, CA; Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA; Oakland Museum of California, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and Mathis Art Gallery at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, among others. Her works are currently on view in the exhibitions Forever Was Never Till Now at the Kala Art Institute, and Hella Feminist at the Oakland Museum of California.