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andrea geyer

Collective Weave. 2017. Silk-screen prints on linen, 2 walls of patterned curtains (23’ and 32’)

Collective Weaves, Installation Shot

Collective Weaves, Installation Shot, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Printed by Anne Kirk Textiles, San Francisco

Collective Weave is a unique set of linen textiles, whose silk-screened patterns are based on illustrations sourced from zines and flyers from lesbian and feminist organizations in the United States—particularly in the Bay Area— dating from 1957 to 1976. The work premiered at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where the textiles hung like stage curtains, creating backdrops for an installation that pivoted on the legacy of the museum’s founding director, Grace McCann Morley, who served for twenty-three years beginning in 1935. In other contexts, they have been shown as raw fabric, neatly folded and hung over a wood hanger, unhemmed.

The work originated in Geyer’s research into Morley’s life and work. One of the most important museologists of her time, Morley believed the museum to be an integral component of civil society. She also engaged in cultural diplomacy under the auspices of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and worked for UNESCO from 1946 to 1949. Morley was known to be a lesbian, which led to friction with the museum’s board of directors and in part to her departure from the museum. Many other queers serving in public positions at the time endured similar scrutiny that ended their professional careers. Geyer’s research focused on the most common form of communication within that era’s queer community: zines and flyers. There she found drawings representing bodies and faces, meetings and exchanges, and public and secret symbols. These drawings were created in lieu of photographs, which would have been too likely to compromise identities. The drawings were therefore sites for imagining community between often isolated individuals.

Collective Weave features continuous patterns in various colors, for example, orange with red; deep purple and pink with burgundy; light blue with navy; and iridescent silver with white. In some of the patterns, motifs of women repeat and flip into designs that appear abstract from a distance. In others, abstract shapes conjure symbols of a bygone club or association. To create each pattern, Geyer used one or two illustrations from a single source, which she credits in the work’s title along with, when possible, the original artist.

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