Schematic Studies

Schematic Studies

This work  engages a community of people to weave strands of ribbon around trees or poles to make a series of large-scale textile installations. Expanding and radically transforming  the concept of the maypole dance, this work builds on my installations made of hand- crocheted rope and adds the potential for choreographed movement. This piece is both a performance and a work of visual art.

My goal is to create striking tapered forms with varying graphic patterns. I want to make these works in series so it is important that I can vary the weaving technique to create a range of formal qualities. I intend to create a number of works for different venues.


Hurray! I am thrilled to have support from the Vermont arts council for an innovative installation I am developing. This installation radically transforms the concept of the  maypole dance…a group of people use a movement system  to perform/construct a series of large outdoor textile installations.

The Brattleboro Museum will present the work -likely in spring 2014.

here is a design/sketch (very rough) of what one such construction might look like.

tree weaving double layer 2

Below  some early images of the installation process and of the finished installation. See previous post for the text of Miriam Sagan’s poem which is  incised on the steel plates seen on the floor.

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Soledad is one of 2 installations based on poems by Miriam Sagan in the exhibit “Time Pieces: Wendover Landing”. The exhibit remains up through August 11, 2012. Soledad is made of  ripstop nylon, wood dowels, ribbon and steel.

The images presented below  include studio shots taken  during fabrication and a photoshop image of the installation as it will look in the gallery. I will install the work in the week between May 21st and may 26th.

I plan to attend the opening so say hello if you happen to be there.

Time Pieces_invite_web

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Miriam Sagan’s poem:


reading in bed

in the little trailer

at the edge of town

a crescent moon


over millions of acres

of darkness

desert sunrise–

Venus, burnished…

and everything

I don’t understand

and all of


rolls towards me

like the waves

of a primeval sea.


My artist’s statement:

I created the installation “Soledad” in direct response to the poem by Miriam Sagan. I read Sagan’s poem looking for imagery, dualities, and contrasts in the text that could guide my search for a visual approach to the installation. I noticed the expanding scale in the poem – text, bed, trailer, town, millions of acres, Venus, all of desire- and I expressed this idea with the chevron form of the wall pieces and their enlarging size as they are distributed across the wall. I noticed the transition in Sagan’s imagery from darkness towards light and from the earthly realm of human enclosure and habitation towards allusions to the celestial and distant time. The presence of a text -implied by the phrase “reading in bed”- occupies in the poem the grounded real of human settlement as the reader is nested within the bed, trailer, and town. I have therefore incised the text of the poem on dark steel bars – a material that has weight and that is associated with buildings. The white fabric wall forms suggest the celestial realm, the coming of day and the imagined waves of the “primordial sea”. These stretched fabric forms blend into the white of the gallery wall, a wall that can be understood as a metaphor for the infinite space and potential of the creative imagination, which includes for me “everything I don’t understand” and  “all of desire”. The fabrics forms are pulled taught and are anchored to the floor by ribbons that connect them to the steel bars. As there is a functional and formal connection between the grounded steel text elements and the floating light forms of the fabric, so too I imagine delicate threads connecting the reader to their thoughts of celestial bodies, the coming of day, primordial times, their emotions and their imagination.

I approached the fabrication of the installation by using materials and methods that were new to me. This installation is made of rip-stop nylon, birch dowels, grommets, ribbon and steel. The chevron forms are very lightweight tensile structures influenced by tent and kite construction. The constraints presented by “Soledad” – the distance of Albuquerque from my studio in Vermont, the limited shipping budget, limited time on site to install and the limited loads that the gallery ceiling could support- pushed me to make an installation that is lightweight, collapses for shipping and can be deployed relatively quickly. Because of my experience in architecture, I think about how fabrication and construction influence form and how the constraints of a project – site, budget, shipping, logistics, time, available labor – can serve to inspire and stir up a creative process rather than undermine it.

These images  are of two recent installations of mine created for a solo show in Burlington Vermont that was in place January and February of 2011. Ken Burris did a terrific job of photographing these two room size installations.

The black crocheted piece is called “Surface Tension” and is made of over 20,000 ft of hand crocheted black rope. The conical forms are supported via a counterweight system, crocheted sacks loaded with river stones. The room in which this piece is sited is approximately 26′ X 36′ X 10′ .

The Bamboo and reflective tape  artwork is titled “Points of View”. Blue reflective tape was mounted at level on a scaffold of bamboo tetrahedrons. This work alludes to the way water finds its own level and to our human tendency to impose order on a landscape. Visitors to this installation were given headlamps with which to view the work.

"Surface Tension", Black Polyester Hand-crocheted rope, River Stones, Carabeeners,dimensions variable, 2011

"Surface Tension", Black Polyester Hand-crocheted rope, River Stones, Carabeeners,dimensions variable, 2011

"Points of View", Painted Bamboo poles, Reflective Blue Tape, Connectors, Dimensions Variable, 2011

"Points of View", Painted Bamboo poles, Reflective Blue Tape, Connectors, Dimensions Variable, 2011

One of My suspended crocheted sculptures “Taper with Counterweight” , will be in an upcoming show from Feb 9 to  March 5 at Gallerie Maison Kasini in the Belgo Building,  #408 372 Ste. Catherine West , Montreal, Quebec  514-448-4723  . The opening Reception is Saturday February 12th from 3-5 pm. This exhibition is curated by Ric Kasini Kadour. See link at right of page to Gallerie Maison Kasini.

" Taper with Counterweight" Hand crocheted polypropylene rope

"Points of View", bamboo, paint, tubing and hardware, 2011

I’m done! Just finished up yesterday afternoon. We added reflective tape to posts and trees in city hall park, extending the “shimmering blue  waterline” in my installation “Points of View”  out into the great landscape beyond the gallery walls. The lighting and final labeling  of the show will be completed by the Gallery staff  this week. Keep in mind that the photos posted here are quick shots taken by me at the end of a long day without finished lighting. I include below the content of  a review of my work written by my friend Andy Sichel, artist and  a former professor of art at Rutger’s University.He very generously surprised me with this a couple of days ago,  sending his remarks out via e-mail to his community.

"Surface Tension", Crocheted polyester rope, carabiners, river stones, 2011

I have watched my brilliant friend Alisa’s work as a sculptor and draftswoman evolve and mature over more than a decade now and I wanted to share this with you all.

Her work is informed by her feminist consciousness, her “day jobs” as a Yale trained architect,  teacher at Norwich University (VT) and as the mother of two quickly growing children.

Alisa’s work melds a thorough and considered understanding of art history with the tenacity of sticking with an initially wise and equally considered choice of “art parents” whom I see as extending from Shamanism through the Artisanal and site specific works of the middle ages, the Utopian visionary, architecturally schooled sculptors and painters of the High Renaissance and Mannerist periods into Dada and Surrealism, the Bio-morphism of Archile Gorky/ Abstract Impressionism, early Modernist architecture (and Meret Oppenheim) ,and the obvious continuing thread of her visually acknowledged Feminist and late Modernist “mother” Eva Hesse, whose mere five year tragically abbreviated career staked fervent ground for many lesser and some (older) peer women sculptors like Jacquie Windsor whose work because of its materials and apparent lack of feminist content is sometimes seen as at odds with more avowedly feminist work like Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party.

However as women artists continue to be hugely under-represented it seems to me that any woman artist who manages to be seen and acknowledged becomes “Feminist” by virtue of being available as a model of a still marginalized minority. Dworsky’s crocheted rope sculptures are certainly per se more avowedly feminist than Louise Bopurgeois’ or  Alice Aycock’s  work yet their process and scale share the more traditionally “male” muscularity of these more celebrated women artists. Alisa’s sculpture has in the past decade spoken to art’s role in relation to architecture and/or environment and I’m particularly impressed with the maturation of the crucial component of a cognitive and affective personal visual/conceptual vocabulary in her work. This is what elevates innovative good art, which nominally contributes to the ongoing contemporary art/philosophy discourse (which is sometimes a lot of noise) to art which whilst doing that, echoes above the clamor to a sustained intriguing and ultimately mysterious conversation which is not happening with the intent of an elitist mystification but which invites us in, as with Joseph Cornell’s work, and transcends the nuts and bolts de rigeur covered bases to, with luck, become part of the larger enduring historical discourse.

Please share this around!

Best to you and Brava Alisa!


(Andy Sichel)