Metaphor is an essential ingredient of the work of American mixed-media artist, Anne Mondro, overall winner of the Powerhouse Museum’s 2011 International Love Lace Award.
Her winning entry, Detroit’s Shadow, is a life sized crocheted reproduction of a Model N Ford engine from 1916, made in steel and copper wire – an expression of nostalgia for the lost industrial heritage of Detroit, former car capital of the world.
Mondro conjured up this work over many months with a single wire and a hooked crochet needle to express her tribute to her family who were employed in the car industry for over 60 years. In the bigger picture she references the generations of women who used fine hand work to express their identity, yet remained anonymous. Through her work in many different media, Mondro presents her thesis on the importance of integrating fine art and traditional craft.
Constructing Detroit’s Shadow was a laborious process and required a strict schedule of over 300 hours, to complete. Working from a sketch is not Mondro‘s chosen method. Materialising in three dimensions comes more easily. Her technique became ‘engrained, subtle, exact and machine-like‘. A master of exploring the depths of human emotion, Mondro vehemently believes in the positive and healing force of art and self expression. Her work explores significant aspects of being human. Art allows us to connect with others and express emotions that do not usually surface. Mondro’s public art projects focus on how art benefits community.
This work is a progression from her Vulnerable Series in which three-dimensional genderless human figures were crocheted in steel wire. Fortuitously, the crochet technique produces kinks and lines that aptly suggest body creases. When photographed in different poses their flexibility suggests emotional connections, vulnerable and complex relationships. A series of crocheted hands, Reconstruct, emerged from this same technique.
Mondro was offered a residency at Artspace in Sydney in 2009. On this visit the artist was inspired by the skeleton of a deserted industrial site at Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour. When the Love Lace Award called for works inspired by a sense of ‘place’, there was an immediate connection with her own sense of history in Detroit.
The work quirkily humanises this machine, this symbol of large scale mass production, in much the same way that the human context is brought to the Vulnerable Series figures. Crochet’s lack of precise lines engenders a softness, a vulnerability of great appeal to the senses.
Mondro has exhibited in many galleries across the United States and driven many public art projects. She is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, School of Art and Design, Ann Arbor and has served on the North American Goldsmiths Board for the last 5 years.
In naming Anne Mondro winner of the Love Lace Award, the judges congratulated her on both her initial concept and the resolution of this work. The Powerhouse Museum is proud to showcase Detroit’s Shadow along with 129 other outstanding works in the Love Lace exhibition, on display until December 2012.
First published in Powerline September 2011.
The Love Lace catalogue featuring all artists in the Love Lace exhibition is available at the Powerhouse Museum Shop or online.