Photos Courtesy of Susan Cianciolo
Video by Mary Lapides
Susan Cianciolo’s show Quilts and Star Belts opens today Friday, August 1st, 2014 as part of Pinehurst Artist Residency at Yalo Studio. The show is on view from now until September 12, 2014.
In the heart of Water Valley in the hill country of Mississippi, Cianciolo’s deep connection to American folklore and craft history aligned with a local community steeped in the tradition of handmade quilts and textiles. The exhibition includes Cianciolo ‘s watercolors and works on paper that illustrate her fashion concepts. These designs inform the language contained in two flags and three large-scale wall hangings. Cianciolo used scraps of distressed burlap and other found objects including sections of vintage quilts, embroidered napkins, faded denim swatches and spools of vintage thread to create abstract geometric patchworks to form the centerpiece of the exhibition.
In an adjacent space, Cianciolo reinvented a tattered American flag found in the attic at the Pinehurst Residency farmhouse. It serves as a quiet memorial to the former owner of the farm, Mark Lapides, who died suddenly at the age of 51 of cancer. Cianciolo’s poignant gesture subtely integrated the racially diverse and divided community. One local African-American woman sang praise to Cianciolo for inventing the new flag of Mississippi.
During the making of the exhibition, Yalo studio served as a workshop space where master sewers of all ages formed daily sewing circles, helping Cianciolo create these unique pieces. Cianciolo assembled as cast of models by word of mouth, from toddlers and Ole Miss university students to local pageant contestants from rural Yalobusha County. The group participted in a one-night performance held in the empty storefront adjacent to Yalo Gallery where a blues trio jammed to the parade of models who entered the space and walked in a circle around what was now being referred to as the ‘new flag of Mississippi’.