Skip to main content

Triangle Downtowner Magazine

Fiber/Mixed Media Installation artist show at Sertoma Arts Center

May 08, 2017 06:09PM ● By Crash Gregg

By Adrienne Garnett

For 20 years, sculptor, installation and fiber artist educator Jan-Ru Wan has been re-inventing discarded objects to create soul-moving environments. These environments are filled with poignant memories, profound concepts and shared emotions. They can be experienced now at the Sertoma Arts Center in Raleigh.

Using found garments, Wan creates forms that suggest the presence of bodies, yet subtly focuses your attention on the space that surrounds and “embraces” them. Wan says,

“I have always emphasized the contrast between the interior and exterior of my work; harshness versus softness; tension versus freedom; free floating versus measured; compulsive energy versus imperturbable silence. This gives rise to the simultaneous existence of repulsion and compulsion. All contradictions melt into a new kind of balance.”

Born in Taiwan and educated in the United States, Wan has observed the differences between the two locales but appreciates the commonalities of basic human needs and desires. “These commonalities drive my research and my work.”

In this exhibition, memories of family and home inform the artist’s visual expressions.  She recounts delightful stories of youthful rebellion when having to iron a seemingly endless floating stream of men’s shirts. Memorializing her late father by printing repeated images of him on petri dishes containing chili pepper, she has created overlapping fringes of these dishes and suspended them (using hundreds of hatpins) from the velvety seat of a decorative chair. The entire chair frame, crowned by a round mirror imprinted with her father’s silhouette, is similarly suspended above the ground…a haunting tribute.

Wan has been awarded many major national and international artist residencies and has participated in 24 solo exhibitions and 44 group exhibitions. She has also received many prestigious awards including a 2008 North Carolina Visual Art Fellowship. As a fiber arts educator, she has held tenure-track professorships in 2 North Carolina universities and will now be teaching in the Sertoma Art Center’s new fiber arts studio in Raleigh.

Wan’s lush and often luminous materials that are layered in a time and labor consuming ritual explore the physical and psychological relationships between the mechanical and the organic, the immense with the miniature “the balance of the chaotic, the sublime and the beautiful.”

This exhibition of Jan-Ru Wan’s fiber and mixed-media installation will remain at the Sertoma Arts Center through May 31, 2017.

Adrienne Garnett is an artist, arts educator, and arts writer in the Triangle area.