Contemporary Woven Pictures by Christy Matson Highlighted in New Milwaukee Art Museum Exhibition

Currents 38 exhibition focuses on Matson’s transformation of a traditional medium into a contemporary art form.

Milwaukee, Wis. – January 13, 2022 – A new exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum presents woven works of art that pair new technologies with centuries-old craft knowledge to create distinctive, painterly compositions. Opening February 25, 2022, in the Museum’s Bradley Family Gallery, Currents 38: Christy Matson features more than 40 woven objects by the Los Angeles-based artist who has helped reshape the traditional medium of weaving into a contemporary art form.

Though Matson (b. 1979) works with textiles, the artist views herself as a painter. Using a digital jacquard loom and her knowledge of historic weaving techniques, Matson creates woven pictures that are rooted in minimalism, abstraction, and decoration and are intended to hang on the wall. She also utilizes these weaving structures and techniques to explore memory; the gendered history of textile production, long considered a feminized form of labor; and issues around sustainability. Her work honors the traditional medium while reflecting the strong, recent embrace of fiber by contemporary artists. 

“I refer to myself as an artist, not a craftsperson, because that language term feels hyperspecific,” said Christy Matson. “When I think about the word ’craft’ in relation to my practice, it’s as a verb and not a noun.” 

The Museum’s Currents series, which highlights new trends in contemporary art, began in 1982 and has featured artists such as Gunther Forg, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Rachel Harrison, and Julian Schnabel, as well as Richard DeVore, Gord Peteran, and Robert Turner. Currents 38 brings together several of Matson’s most recent works, including never-before-seen textiles made for this exhibition. 

“The Milwaukee Art Museum has a long history of acquiring and exhibiting fiber art. We’re thrilled to showcase the work of this transformative artist who has firmly inserted textiles into the contemporary art conversation through her fantastic woven pictures,” said Margaret Andera, Interim Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art. “Christy Matson is also the first weaver to be featured in our Currents series of exhibitions at the Museum.” 
Matson’s work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art’s Renwick Gallery, and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, Matson became the youngest ever tenured at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago when she was appointed Associate Professor of Fiber and Material Studies. She is represented by Volume Gallery, also based in Chicago. 

The Milwaukee Art Museum recently acquired Matson’s Magical Thinking (2020) for its collection, and the work will be installed as part of the Currents 38 exhibition.  

The exhibition will be on view through July 17, 2022.  An accompanying catalogue produced by the Milwaukee Art Museum is the first publication dedicated to Matson’s woven work. Fully illustrated, the book includes an in-depth interview with the artist and original curatorial essays.  

Currents 38: Christy Matson is curated by Monica Obniski, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, High Museum of Art, and coordinated at the Milwaukee Art Museum by Margaret Andera, Interim Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art.  

Presenting sponsorship is provided by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Friends of Art. This research was supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft.  

Exhibitions originally scheduled for 2020 at the Milwaukee Art Museum are made possible by the 2020 Visionaries: Donna and Donald Baumgartner, John and Murph Burke, Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, Joel and Caran Quadracci, Sue and Bud Selig, and Jeff Yabuki and the Yabuki Family Foundation.