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Each month, Artweek Previews Editor Debra Koppman highlights selected exhibitions from venues listed in the Artweek Exhibition Calendar.





‘Bags and Baggage’

Have you ever left home without your bag? What do you carry with you in a day? What kind of bag do you take with you? Bags and Baggage, presented at the Falkirk Cultural Center, offers the opportunity to see the work of nine artists considering the “baggage” of human existence.


The nine mid-career exhibiting artists who have shown their work locally, nationally and internationally call themselves EDGE, and include Jeanette Carr, Cynthia Jensen, Shoko Kageyama Klyce, Giselle Kappus, Nancy Ziegler Nodelman, Melody Oxarart, Ruth Tabancay, Cecelia Thorner and Stuart Wagner. Using a variety of three-dimensional media including quilting, fiber, metal, clay, paper, found and recycled objects, the artists create sculptural works that address both the literal and conceptual nature of bags and baggage. Playfulness abounds, and functions well as a strategy for lightening the potential load of so much cargo.


A variety of literal bags form the structure of many of the pieces. A great number of ordinary brown paper grocery sacks are folded by Kappus into rhythmic structures, then combined to form an installation which transforms and transcends the familiar and utilitarian. Every Day of Shopping is Christmas is a gigantic tree made by Thorner of hundreds of shopping bags. Jensen’s Bag Ladies dresses are also made of many, many folded and sculpted shopping bags.


Purses are the conceptual basis for another group of works. Hand Bag, by Kageyama Klyce, features a knitted-steel hand holding a welded steel purse. Thorner’s Retail Therapy features purses constructed of multiple price tags, while Carr’s delicate lace Trophy Totes appear as light and airy as if they were created for fairies.


Ordinary tea bags turn into purse Tea Bags in the hands of Ziegler Nodelman, and into an entire comforter laid onto a bed titled Sweet Dreams in the hands of Tabancay. Surplus bank moneybags become a quilt called Security Blanket by Kageyama Klyce.


Literal, heavy baggage is also transformed into metaphorical baggage, whose load is somewhat lightened by whimsy. Jensen’s He’s Got Baggage, a set of weathered luggage, carries individual loads, each identified by a specific logo and sentiment. Oxarart’s Burden Basket is woven from paper strips, each strip imprinted with exhortations heard from mothers around the world. Ziegler Nodelman’s Case of AmmoAllure features multiple alternating bright red lipstick tubes and black shotgun shells, in an open carrying case ready for action.


Some of the heaviest baggage in the exhibition is carried around on a little red cart with a long red handle. Titled, My Struggle, Wagner’s cart bed has been replaced with a concrete slab, into which has been inlaid a simple, wooden, Jewish star. How much baggage does one carry in a lifetime? Is there a point at which one can leave the baggage behind?


Bags and Baggage will be on view October 29 through January 8 at Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael.