Stitched Works: Tangled Threads


Jen Pack’s work at Sarah Lee Artworks & Projects appears light and lithe, but in choosing her methods and materials, Pack has knowingly taken on a heavy load. Stitching onto delicate silk chiffons, she assumes the baggage of traditional associations with feminine craft.


Working with stark squares, reiterated in line, she incorporates the discipline of Minimalism – its formal and emotional restraint. For the most part, Pack’s technical ambition carries the work. A cloying prettiness trivializes some of it, but in several pieces her disparate motivations come together with grace and power.


Red Mess is the finest example. Pack stretches translucent, acid yellow chiffon over squared stretcher bars and stitches across the surface in staggered, stunted streaks of crimson thread. The surface pulsates with starts and stops. Each fragmented line is punctuated at the end by the back-and-forth stitches of closure and then, like an ellipsis, a dangling thread. The threads multiply and tangle until they form a frizzy beard, narrowing to a scraggly tail. The vaguely erotic allusions carry further the bodily references Pack builds into other works – one a delicate skeletal dress articulated in taut thread, another a Rapunzel-like tress of dense blue threads falling from their square source high on the wall into a fluid puddle on the floor.


Eva Hesse comes to mind. So do the weavers and color theorists Anni and Josef Albers. Pack anchors her work in the essentials – color, form, line and light – but lets it fly by playing the regular off of the irregular, control off of abandon.


- Leah Ollman, LA Times, August 19, 2005