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Exhibition Essay
By Elizabeth Dunbar, Curator
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art


Foldoverfold Marcie Miller Gross
16 December 2005 - 29 January 2006

Marcie Miller Gross uses utilitarian textiles to create site-specific installations that communicate ideas about space, repetition, mass, equilibrium, and form. For foldoverfold Miller Gross folded and stacked nearly six thousand cotton huck towels to build three structures that exist as independent entities while simultaneously working together to activate the spaces between them. Typically used for medical and dental use, these seemingly generic towels suggest weight, tension, and volume in their massive, accumulative forms, but also implicitly refer to the multiple and diverse histories of labor - including health care, manufacturing and domesticity.

Miller Gross's primary concern is the integral relationship of substance and structure - finding the balance between a simple structure, its formal and poetic qualities, and its conceptual directions. Although borrowing from the language of Minimalism in their simplicity and reductive form, her sculptural works defy Minimalist orthodoxy by focusing on the expressive and gestural marks of the fold, and the physical and psychological activity of repetition. The gesture and memory of the artist's hands as well as the towels' histories and references combine to give Miller Gross's works and expressive meaning that extends well beyond their Minimalist roots.

Originally trained in design and interior architecture, Miller Gross was fascinated by the Kemper Museum's dramatic and unusual gallery spaces, which she characterized as contemplative, even cathedral-like. Her response was to create an installation with towels that were "pure" (crisp, white, flat, and new) - a significant departure for the artist, who is known for her constructions of used textiles. In foldoverfold, Miller Gross gives us an innovative look at sculptures relationship to its surroundings, while its materials suggest a larger relationship to the world, and even transcendence.