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Anna Von Mertens / MATRIX 207

Suggested North Points

July 13, 2003 - September 7, 2003

West and East, 2003; hand-dyed, hand-stitched cotton; each 60 x 80 x 17 in.; installation view; photo courtesy of Jean-Michelle Addor.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

Suggested North Points
, a new installation by Bay Area–based artist Anna Von Mertens, is about living in America. Von Mertens hand-dyes the fabric and hand-stitches the patterns of her sculptures, which take the form of nontraditional quilts. The MATRIX exhibition will include a floor drawing as well as five sculptures. Four of the five quilts abstractly describe, through their precise colors, specific places in the North American landscape, to form a personal, geographic portrait of the artist. The horizontal bands of color in these landscape quilts—which are titled West, East, North, and South—echo iconic views of nature: a brilliant, Hollywood-tinged Western sunset or the truncated horizon above a frozen New England lake. The floor work and the fifth quilt allegorically posit, for the artist, the age-old quandary of the relationship between an individual and the collective whole—the attempt to find one’s own direction while working within an existing system.

“I choose to work in a very labor-intensive medium, not out of some kind of martyrdom, but because I believe the aspect of touch, a kind of narration with my hands, brings an intimacy to my pieces that could not be obtained any other way,” Von Mertens writes. The artist’s complex stitching patterns add meaning and resonance to the quilts. The landscape quilts on view in MATRIX, for example, evoke energy, how it is exhausted as well as generated. West and East address the big bang (extroversion) and a black hole (introversion), respectively. In the former, time is represented on the vertical axis and space on the horizontal, combining to move toward the ultimate expansion; in the latter, space is denoted as collapsing, with yellow stitching indicating beams of light sent one degree in every direction. In past works, Von Mertens’s stitching has inscribed such things as patterns of bird migration, and the topography of her own body.

An MFA graduate from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Von Mertens has had solo exhibitions at the Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco and Works Gallery in San Jose. This will be her first solo museum exhibition.

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator

The MATRIX Program at the Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by the generous endowment gift of Phyllis C. Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Ann M. Hatch, and Glenn and April Bucksbaum.

Support for Anna Von Mertens/MATRIX 207 Suggested North Points has been provided by Christopher Vroom and Illya Szilak.