Through a broad, tactile mixture of textiles, printmaking, painting, and sculpture, An Advocate for an Imposter explores the nuanced relationship between imitation and authenticity. Beiswenger’s embroidery, sculpture, and weavings comprise an expansive, kind, and thoughtful conversation.
The central feature of An Advocate for an Imposter is a formal armchair upholstered in AstroTurf, flanked by two log end tables and resting on a large rug. On one side is a bowl of acorns. The arrangement creates interesting conversation about the distinction between “imposter” and “genuine.”
The AstroTurf upholstery is a particularly entertaining juxtaposition. AstroTurf is definitely an imposter, oversaturated plastic pretending to be a perfect, living yard. As upholstery, it’s doubly false–fake grass pretending to be an appropriate fabric for a seat (but actually a prickly, unpleasant surprise). The natural end tables, however, complicate the situation. Raw, unfinished wood–bare nature–is inserted into this indoor, almost domestic scene, yet the AstroTurf upholstery attempts to imitate the vibrance of living plants outdoors. Which belongs where? Who is really the imposter?
The rug below the chair has been printed with scrabble-worthy words that would pose a challenge for even the most experienced elementary school spelling bee champion. The nest of words is beautiful but overwhelming. It can be easy to feel like an imposter, standing in a space covered in terms you are ashamed you don’t know.
The wall facing the gallery entrance is dedicated to a life-sized skeleton, layers of patterned fabric exactingly embroidered with tight, floral embellishments. Next to it is pinned a small, three-inch square portrait. The contrasts between the two–in size, media, style, and presentation–are stark. The portrait, in its intimately small scale and open, unguarded expression, offers a deeply genuine moment of connection, while the skeleton is a much more precisely arranged look inside a person (literally). Both are undeniably appealing, but deeply different.
A series of cloth panels juxtapose carefully embroidered forms with sketches, splotches, and smudges. The organic, unintentional flaws and the precisely realized diagrams both have an appealing integrity to them. Sketches, coffee stains, and wrinkles–the fingerprints of an imperfect reality–honor the time, effort, and person beside the ideals of their work.
An Advocate for an Imposter will be on display in the Godschalx Gallery through October 20.