R. Mertens, Staunton, VA
R. Mertens received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon. His work has been included in major exhibitions at the Hangaram Museum of Design, Seoul, South Korea, Bellevue Arts Museum, WA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA; Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, MI; Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, OR, and Muskegon Art Museum, MI. He is currently an Associate Professor of Fine Arts and Head of the Fiber Arts and Weaving program at James Madison University.
My research combines ideas of eschatology, acoustics, handcraft and loss; which I manifest in hybrid sculptures and installations. My practice is driven by concepts related to fragmentation, spirituality, repetition, pattern, interconnection and the emphasis of meaning found in craft processes. I search for broken narratives, end-time beliefs, quotidian gestures, textile structures, and the echo of entropy. In my work, I consider the shifting nature of craft and tradition by deconstructing ideas of progression and time. I often employ traditional craft techniques such as weaving, felting, quilting and hand embroidery and combine them with advanced prototyping technology such as laser-cutting, digital fabric printing, and digital Jacquard hand weaving. I triangulate between the poetics of electricity, the production of the hand and daydreams of dystopia. How does humanity perceive its relationship to technology changing? Why is string considered any different than 3D printing? What tension can be gleaned from understanding this perceived difference or continuous blurring?