LENSCRATCH, March 2021
The Artist Intervenes: Charlotte Schmid-Maybach, Curated by Adrienne Hughes

TEXTILE CURATOR, Helen Adams Interview 2020

LOIS LAMBERT GALLERY, David Toma, August 2020

SANTA MONICA, CA — Charlotte Schmid-Maybach’s exhibit “Water, Walls, and Trees: Photographic Tapestries” opens Saturday, September 19th, 2020 at Lois Lambert Gallery. This collection features her latest work detailing an interdisciplinary and multidimensional approach to capturing images of nature through a combination of photography, textile, and assemblage.

Charlotte is heavily inspired by the majestic old growth forests and crumbling walls at Fort Worden on Puget Sound. Rocks weathered by wind and sea, trees that traverse the landscape, water that flows to its primordial rhythm, and the scenic markings of time that indicate its passing all serve to inform her compositions. Such images of wild beauty form the basis of Charlotte’s photographic objects, enhanced even further by the use of various threads that she has woven throughout its Japanese Kozo paper.

Through a meticulous process of sewing individual threads over and into each photographic print, Charlotte transforms the composition of her images into a multidimensional tapestry that invites the viewer to observe the work up close and trace its lines to new discoveries. Starting with her own archival inkjet prints on Japanese Kozo paper, she paints with a layer of acrylic to protect the delicate surface material from UV light and the rough process of sewing. Then, Charlotte attaches a structural backing onto the paper before beginning to sew by hand and machine with various types of thread. With some photographs, she covers the entire image with this thread to form a type of sculptural artifact, and with other grid-like images, such as “Puget Sound”, the method of sewing becomes more sparse and is used only to emphasize structure. The amount of thread utilized on a specific work is an individual decision as every composition has its own unique requirements. To complete the process, she sews layers of Tengu tape around the edges as a border – a special hand pressed supporting material for traditional Japanese papers.

For Charlotte, the sewing process is also about making something interesting out of the ordinary, and in doing so elevating the age-old idea of sewing as “women’s work” to that of a higher art form. Her approach to photography utilizes one art form to evolve the use of the other, creating a final piece that is complex in both its construction and appearance. Some of her tapestries form complete dream-like abstractions of nature as in “Sound of Thunder”, where metallic threads create physical textures that mix together both the real and illusory. Other works, such as “Island”, offer an elegant minimalism to their depictions of water, with the texture of its thread made apparent only through closer viewing.

Her use of multilayered materials that combine with the photographic image evokes a sense of magic, finding a home in the realm of our imagination and memory. It calls upon our own associations with nature, whether that be through emotion or past experience. Charlotte muses that, “perhaps our experiences in life are like threads, sewn over and over into our daily experience.”

– David Toma, Lois Lambert Gallery, August 2020