PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Michael C. Thorpe

January 12 - May 26, 2024

OPENING EVENT: February 2, 2024 | 5 - 9 PM

American conceptual artist Michael C. Thorpe’s approach to art-making uniquely redefines the traditional practices of both quilt-making and assemblage art. Collectively, the body of work illustrates the range of his practice and process over the past three years; and, represents the trajectory of his emerging vision as a process-based artist. 

Thorpe’s work challenges our expectations or traditional understanding of the quilt as a functional object. These quilts are constructed and presented as fine art objects, and demonstrative of his working practice focused on process, not usability. His use of color and interrelated forms speak to specific messages, but not those associated with the intention and meaning of conventional quilts. Traditional quilting documents marriages, births, and coming-of-age celebrations which are constructed primarily of patterning.

Thorpe was raised in a family of prolific and skilled quilt makers who mentored and trained him throughout his life. Rather than abandon this medium in favor of a fine art material, he embraces it. A key element distinguishing Thorpe from his predecessors (and his family) is his choice of materials and how he addresses subject matter. His unique style is one that is derived from his formal training in photojournalism and selection of medium – quilting cotton and thread. Experimenting with the flatness of the quilt material and documentary subject matter, his figurative work recalls the painting techniques of Henri Matisse, Romare Bearden, and Jacob Lawrence. Thorpe is an avid consumer of knowledge, art history and contemporary culture, and finds inspiration in the lives and work practices of other conceptual artists such as Bruce Nauman, Ed Rucha, and especially the late German artist Martin Kippenberger.

As a process-based artist, his subject highlights the way a work unfolds. Using a large format, manually-operated sewing machine, multicolored threads outline cross over - moving in and around forms. Within his process, there are identifiable genres that are revealed: still life, assemblage, portraiture and text. He is not bound to a series of related subject matter nor style, but rather works simultaneously on multiple pieces at a time. His figurative and still life pieces function as a snapshot might, the text art are relics or his daily muses – art history books, poetry, vintage magazines. Abstractions are expressions, and through an irregular application of cotton swatches to the backing material, Thorpe intentionally disregards the planned patterning and straight lines of a traditional quilt-making process; they are expressive and function as a wide brushstroke might paint a canvas.

Thorpe sees possibility in the evolution of his practice and in advance of sewing, he sketches an intended direction. But once his work begins, the piece takes on a life of its own, ultimately fulfilling its maker’s desire for experimentation, active learning and progress. Like an abstract painter pushing the boundaries of a canvas, Thorpe’s expressive gestures in cotton swatches surpass the implied flat quality of a quilt; texture and movement of forms, unstructured layering and overlapping and adjusting the backing material serve as a means of expression and chance.

It is the means to the end, not the final product that drives his passion to work. Completed pieces are the product of Thorpe’s eagerness to work, and begin again. He is consigned to the result. For Thorpe, practice makes perfect. 

Beckler Family Gallery

Exhibitions Galleries Museums Northern Delaware

Plan Your Visit

Schedule & Tickets

Venue

The Delaware Contemporary
200 S. Madison Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

More Events You Might Like

Stay Connected

search
events & places & more
April 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
May 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
June 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
July 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
August 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
September 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
October 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
November 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
December 2024
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
January 2025
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
February 2025
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
March 2025
S
M
T
W
T
F
S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
next 3 days next 7 days
coming soon last chance!

Features

Categories

Regions

Opportunities

DelawareScene
Plan Your Visit You might also like...