Emily L. R. Adams’ show Autonomous Tangle explores ideas of internal and external freedom through self-reflection and feminine nudity using unique and diverse media. Emily is a 2nd year graduate student at UW-Madison in the School of Human Ecology. She received her B.F.A. from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio in 2005. The title, Autonomous Tangle, describes the confusion of self-exploration versus how people portray themselves to others. Emily looks into these ideas with beautiful, thoughtful works of art that support each other with respect to topics of feminism and domesticity.
Emily combined various forms of media to communicate her views, including vintage pin-up photos printed on antique silver platters, custom wallpaper, a large velvet wall covering, a fainting couch, and twine-encased frames. Almost all of this was created in graduate studios in the School of Human Ecology.
The silver platters were all found at various thrift stores and were then imprinted with vintage pin-up photos of beautiful, curvy women. Just like the women printed on them, the silver platters were all of unique shapes and sizes. Emily was very selective in choosing these photos, only using photos in which the woman looked completely comfortable and content with herself. This extra attention to detail contributed to the meaning of the show itself.
The 1920s fainting couch was found on Craigslist and upholstered with dark green satin patterned with the keys, locks, and chains of emotional freedom by Emily herself. This was a new and difficult task, she said, but also a fun one. Even though it was a new process for her, Emily most enjoyed making the velvet wall covering, a 7 by 19 foot artwork, one of the largest of her career. The velvet was hand dyed and screen printed with women’s faces and also attached were a few mirrors, some broken and some not. Each of the mirrors and faces are encircled by phrases written by Emily herself. For example, “It’s ok to be yourself” and “Give yourself time to drift”; these are designed to ignite the viewer’s own self-reflection while viewing the artwork. The wallpaper was created digitally also using vintage pin-up photos of women from the 1920‘s and 30’s. Since Emily used a damask design for the wallpaper, it can be viewed from any distance and still be equally striking.
Emily’s vision for this project progressed exactly to what she imagined. She wants to continue in design as a progressive career and move onto bigger things to also help the environment in ways such as using new technology. In fact, design has been in her destiny since she was 10 years old. Emily recalled, “My grandfather told me that his brother was a wallpaper designer, and that was the first time . . . I thought, oh, gosh . . . that’s someone’s job to make artwork all day . . . How cool. So, that was kind of a secret dream job of mine.” Emily also says she has a lot to learn about design, though she has a solid foundation in fine arts. Specifically to this exhibit, Emily relates to the work of Christian Boltanksi, a French artist famous for his installation sculptures, photographs, and films. He appropriated photos from the Holocaust and used lighting to change the mood for the viewer; the idea is similar to Autonomous Tangle, using different media and old photos to express a certain idea.
She also revealed that some of her work will be showing at the Madison Museum of Modern Art in the future. Emily’s exhibit will be in the Class of 1925 Gallery on the second floor of Memorial Union until March 25th, 2014.