Louisiana artist and sculptor Loren Schwerd at UNCA

Loren Schwerd will talk about her current show, Mourning Portrait, up through March 26 at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. She will give a lecture on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. at UNCA’s Owen Conference Center. The event is free and open to the public.

From the Center:

“The exhibit began as a series of memorials to the communities of New Orleans that were devastated by the flooding which followed Hurricane Katrina. Working from photographs Schwerd took of vacant houses from the Ninth Ward neighborhood, she creates metal armatures that act as the frameworks for weaving the hair into portraits of these homes.

These commemorative objects are made from human hair extensions of the type commonly used by African-American women that the artist found outside the St. Claude Beauty Supply. The portraits draw on the 18th- and 19th-century tradition of hairwork, in which family members or artisans would fashion the hair of the deceased into intricate jewelry and other objects as symbols of death and rebirth. This series venerates the city’s losses, both individual and collective. Hair acts as the central metaphor to evoke a sense of intimacy and absence, and speaks to the racial politics that have paralyzed the city’s recovery effort.”

Schwerd is an assistant professor of sculpture at Louisiana State University School of Art in Baton Rouge, and spent two years researching and executing the work.

“The series has expanded into a larger body of objects and images that utilize a broader range of techniques and provide a richer context for the houses, such as sculptures, shaped from found wigs, that combine imagery from Victorian hair wreaths with contemporary, sculptural, African-American hair fashions.”

From her artist’s statement:

“My artistic practice includes site-related installations, wearable art, video and sculptures that are inspired and shaped by the impulse to transform familiar objects into metaphorical constructions and paradoxical observations. I investigate the multiple associations that are present in a material, site, image, or gesture, seeking to identify and enhance points of connection and tension between these suggestions.  I favor found materials that contribute their function, cultural value, and a trace of their mysterious personal history to my design. All of my projects demonstrate a dedication to craft. I employ basic methods of connection such as tying, weaving, and stitching, imbuing my work with a feminine sensibility, and whose meticulous labor evokes a sense of time, memory, and obsession. Permeating all of my creative endeavors is a slightly dark humor and a fascination with awkward beauty.”

More info on the show:

The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design is located 5 miles west of Hendersonville at 1181 Broyles Road, adjacent to the UNC Asheville Kellogg Center. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are invited to walk the Perry N. Rudnick one-mile nature and public art trail following a visit to the exhibition in the Craft Center galleries. www.craftcreativitydesign.org or 828-890-2050.

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