Review: 'Elizabeth Duffy: Wearing' At The Arts Center At Duck Creek - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1826456

Review: ‘Elizabeth Duffy: Wearing’ At The Arts Center At Duck Creek

icon 4 Photos
Elizabeth Duffy

Elizabeth Duffy "Wearing/6 Garments," 2021. Unbraided work rugs sewn into garments, rug remnants, 6 x 9 x 3 feet.

Installation view Elizabeth Duffy

Installation view Elizabeth Duffy "Wearing/Tent," 2020. Unbraided, pressed and sewn worn rugs, rug remnants, tent structure, 38 x 54 x 72 inches. ELIZABETH DUFFY

Elizabeth Duffy

Elizabeth Duffy "Wearing/Rose Window with 5 Garments," 2020. Unbraided, pressed and sewn worn braided rug, rug remnant 15 x 15 feet/dimensions variable. ELIZABETH DUFFY

"Wearing/Coat," 2019. Unbraided worn rug sewn into a coat, rug remnant. COURTESY THE ARTIST

Meredith Hasemann on Oct 18, 2021

Things are worn and things wear out — socks and rugs; barns and studios. The latest installation at the Arts Center at Duck Creek Farm, “Elizabeth Duffy: Wearing,” is about storytelling: What we reuse, how we repurpose, and how we re-imagine. It is not only Duffy’s current collection of stories, but the entire project of Duck Creek itself that is in conversation with past, present, and future.

I wanted to see the installation since I read about it in The East Hampton Star. My mother, 81 years old, was an artisan when I was growing up, sewing dolls, quilts, and pillows out of scraps of fabric. She created stories with thread and cloth. Her father was a comic book illustrator, telling tales with pen and ink. I opted for nouns and verbs. She was visiting, and I figured we might like this exhibition about the transformation of materials.

It was a rainy Sunday. The sky was threatening, the rain misting, the trees whispering. Inside, my attention was pulled to one circular rug hanging in a window of the space. Garments gathered around it like ascending figures circling a rose window. The effect was a textile version of a stained glass cathedral piece, and it set a confessional tone for the old barn that became a studio that is now a gallery. And the clothes that became rugs that became Elizabeth Duffy’s installation. There are a lot of stories to be told between the barn and the artwork.

There are people behind it all. Yesterday, my parents and I passed around old family photographs. Sometimes we laughed, but sometimes we struggled to identify the people or their names. This exhibition was a lot like that. We don’t know the people who wore the socks that became rugs. And we never met the hands who stitched them together. But we are now.

My mother likes to claim that she is the only non-artist in a family of artists. I think Elizabeth Duffy would beg to differ. The nameless people who made the socks followed by the unsung people who made the rugs are part of the story. When Duffy unravels the rug, history, stories and art live in the coils before she even begins.

The space itself that the work is housed in was owned by the artist John Little, one of East Hampton’s many abstract expressionists. In quarantine, my son studied all about our local artistic heritage with a small group of students attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago remotely. George never told his Chicago professor he was actually Zooming from Springs when they spoke about Pollock, Krasner, de Kooning. For another class, George created a duct-tape knock-off of one of Helmut Lang’s wallets. After viewing this exhibit, I learned that John Little’s family eventually sold his property to Helmut Lang, the last private owner before the town bought it.

In Elizabeth Duffy’s “Wearing,” old stories are reborn and add to the story of the larger space. The building at Duck Creek was eventually purchased by East Hampton Town and re-birthed. The intelligent, engaging, and enthusiastic docent, Justin Leon Munoz, an artist himself, told us Little had likely widened the door to get his paintings out. Plus, that wall hosts a window that was probably never in the original barn. It brings in a lot of light, something the abstract expressionists all loved about Springs.

I discovered the ghosts of unraveled threads with my mother while examining Duffy’s “Wearing Yardage/Blue Stripe,” 2020. The repurposing was so rhythmic as to be almost a drumbeat in the fabric of the work. Pieces like “Wearing/19th c. dress, with slippers and purse,” 2021 and “Wearing/Tent,” 2020 revealed rhythmic holes in their unraveling. My mother said it looked like eyelet. Justin told us that the holes in the fabric were from “kicks,” or treads from when the ghost-shoes hit cloth. The rain beat acoustics on the ceiling of the old barn. Following the green thread down the umbilical cord, I could see the green stitching in the rug the garment had been birthed from. It was worn.

I picked up a catalog and noted that Duffy had shown at Rhode Island School of Design (she teaches at Roger Williams University). My brother attended RISD before an untimely death. As the sky threatened rain outside the barn doors, I realized that this exhibition was a conversation about stories. Each piece in the installation contained at least three generations of work. I looked at the rose window and listened to the beating rain, and thought about the silent artists in my life.

My mother asked Justin about the selection and installation process. He mentioned Duck Creek’s executive director, Jess Frost. My mother and I exchanged surprised glances. Wasn’t that an old friend of mine, her eyebrows asked?

I am an English teacher and a writer. When we were young, Jess and I were waiters. We worked together, cried together and commiserated together about art, life and food for years. We were artists, repurposed as restaurant workers while we found our footing. We knew local food and wine before it was “a thing.” These are the real stories. We were the unsung workers behind your four star East End dining experience. Our space in this world, between the stories of art and food, are as symbiotic as the barn and this exhibit at Duck Creek. Elizabeth Duffy’s stories are worth being re-told. And so are the stories of Springs.

Meredith Hasemann is a published writer and English teacher living in Springs. “Elizabeth Duffy: Wearing,” remains on view through October 23 at the Arts Center at Duck Creek, 127 Squaw Road, East Hampton. The Gallery is open Thursday through Sunday, 2 to 6 p.m. and by appointment. For details, visit duckcreekarts.org.

You May Also Like:

Dawn Porter Receives Doc Fest Pennebaker Career Achievement Award

Inspired by a deep curiosity and empathy for the human experience, director Dawn Porter specializes ... 22 Nov 2021 by Carey London

Michael Disher Believes In Miracles

When it comes to East End theatrical longevity, Michael Disher has been directing productions out ... 19 Nov 2021 by Annette Hinkle

Acting Auditions At LTV

LTV Studios is issuing a casting call for actors ages 16+ for the premiere of a new play by a well-known author to be presented in May 2022 at LTV. This is a monologue style play about suicide and mental health. Directed by Valerie diLorenzo and produced with LTV, this will be a true community event and in benefit for East End Mental Health networks. Audition dates are Sunday, December 5, and Monday, December 6, at LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Road, Wainscott. Hours are 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m. Casting calls for five actors, age 16+. ... by Staff Writer

2021 Hamptons Doc Fest Schedule

Hamptons Doc Fest 2021 Schedule: Sag Harbor Cinema Friday, December 3 7 p.m. Opening Night Film, “Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind” (94 min.) directed by Stig Bjorkman. Post-film, Q&A with Bjorkman hosted by Miriam Parker, Associate Publisher of ECCO, an imprint of Harper Collins. Saturday, December 4 Noon. “The Automat” (79 min.) directed by Lisa Hurwitz. Post-film, Q&A with Hurwitz led by Roger Sherman. 2:30 p.m. “Movie Man” (82 min.) directed by Stina Gardell. Roger Sherman will lead the Q&A afterwards with Gardell and the film’s protagonist, Stig Bjorkman. 5 p.m. “Citizen Ashe” (94 min.) ... by Staff Writer

Bedside Reading For Thanksgiving

Bedside Reading is bringing a cornucopia of books to the Hamptons this Thanksgiving weekend, providing ... by Staff Writer

Illuminating The Creative Process At The Church in Sag Harbor

The Church in Sag Harbor, East Hampton’s Guild Hall and Works & Process at the Guggenheim have announced the LaunchPAD “Process as Destination” pilot program, a collaboration to nurture region-wide support for creative process and encourage artists and audiences to embrace the artistic process as destination. This winter, two projects set to premiere at Works & Process at the Guggenheim in 2022 will receive fully funded residencies at The Church in Sag Harbor, including artist fees, devoted rehearsal space, living accommodations, transportation and healthcare insurance coverage. The Church will host the artists for these two residencies and provide space in ... by Staff Writer

From The LTV Archives

The East Hampton Library will present “The LTV Archives: A Treasure Trove of Local History,” a lecture program on Wednesday, December 1, from 6 to 7 p.m. The program will be presented by Genie Henderson, LTV’s longtime archivist; and the author of “A Day Like Any Other: The Great Hamptons Hurricane of 1938,” in conversation with Brooke Kroeger, professor emerita of journalism at New York University, and an East Hampton Library Board member. The free program will be presented in person at the library and simultaneously live streamed via Zoom. The one-hour event will include a question-and-answer period, with questions ... by Staff Writer

Music At The Masonic Temple With Chase Allardice

Returning to the Masonic Temple in Sag Harbor on Saturday, November 27, to perform his ... by Staff Writer

A Virtual Visit With Susan Schrott

The Montauk Library’s “Virtual Visits” series with artists and musicians in their studios continues with ... by Staff Writer

Get Cooking: ‘Two Jews Making Food’ Debuts On LTV

It’s not exactly who you’d expect to find on the set of a buttoned up ... by Annette Hinkle
logo

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported
Send this to a friend