Bunnie Reiss’ solo show The In Between populates Redux Studios’ gallery space with incredibly detailed and textured fabric wall hangings, wearable artworks, collages and drawings. Environments are quite lovingly constructed and layered to create larger, holistic experiences for her audiences; not obtrusive but successfully complementary. Reiss refutes the feminine connotations of these crafts, deftly moving between vintage fashion and the domestic into modern industrial arts. Indeed what is what is so captivating about Reiss’ works is how each assemblage and artwork within are so intricately well-balanced. Macrame, yarn tassels, plastic beads, and pom poms come together with refuse architectural elements like old doors with heart cut-outs, banister spindles, windows and shelving made from discarded wood in multiple layers of meaning.
Reiss’ community-based art practice using found objects and recycled vintage coincides well with a gallery show at Redux Studios & Gallery. Redux is a social enterprise of The Saint Vincent de Paul society where donated items, usually obsolescing objects are resold to fund charitable works. Reiss’ art installation expounds upon the beauty among these items as well as their utility. Some of the foundational pieces are personal or sentimental, but many are derived from charity shops, dead stock, community donations, or found on the street. This exhibition marks a novel foray in Reiss’ work– wearable art: ponchos, masks, and gloves as well as pillows, quilts, and even a pouf chair. Reiss also intelligently reappropriates materials, confusing boundaries of purpose and placement by reinvention and rethinking usefulness: upholstery fabric becomes a cape, and eyeglass frames wired together is a brilliant sculptural manifestation.
Bunnie (Bonnie) Reiss, Valedictorian of San Francisco Art Institute class of 2011, has made a significant mark within a short space of time after graduation with a highly successful dual show with Monica Canilao; an artist residency at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Educational department culminating in an impressive installation; and recently she was a major collaborator of Peralta Junction, creating their center stage. Reiss says, “Oakland is a frontier, it’s so open. Working here just felt right with what I am doing.”
After relocating to San Francisco 7 years ago from the East Coast and Colorado, she spends her days collecting, arranging and investigating the relationship between new and old, scavenging for discarded materials to create and quilt in her West Oakland studio. Says Reiss, “I don’t know a lot of people doing quilting. I think there’s a unique kind of storytelling that goes along with them.” In a contemporary world increasingly online, it is welcomed to see a handmade art practice which celebrates a past in which creating things was not only a common part of social interaction but also everyday life. Reiss patches together social and domestic histories, creating a dialogue living simultaneously in past and present: “I wonder about the constant change happening around us, and how no matter what, we have to celebrate the new in order to appreciate the old.”
Bunnie Reiss, The In Between will be at Redux Studios & Gallery through Feb 1, 2013.