Location: Charleston, SC, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $11,700
Mary Edna Fraser
Gibson Guess Architects
Lauren Sanchez Design
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Havens Fine Art Framing
Cecelia N Dailey
Chadwick I & II were designed to solve the problem of covering a 55” television. As an art collector, the client wanted one of Mary Edna Fraser’s aerial landscape batiks reflective of the exterior location. Fraser met with the client, architects, interior designer, and art curator on-site in the residential space while under construction. A lively discussion followed, and the art was conceived as two separate pieces when the television is covered, then as a unit when the television is revealed. Chadwick I measures 58” tall by 60″ wide. Chadwick II is two panels each 70” tall by 14” wide.
Chadwick I combines an aerial view and an on-location photograph of trees. Chadwick II, two side-by-side verticals are stationary on the right and is a satellite view. The art gives different perspectives of the same marsh-side site, which combine elegantly, and show the range of Fraser’s techniques. While working, Fraser often laid the silks over each other to refine the composition.
Two different types of silks were used, a heavy shantung for the stationary panels and a thinner shinier silk for the television cover. The curator was concerned about stress on the moving panel, so Fraser reinforced the thinner silk by sewing heavier shantung silk on the left and right sides of Chadwick I, repeating the fabric used in Chadwick II.
The interior designer shared samples of paint, fabric, and metals used and approved silks. The collector also wanted the silk colors to be inspired by the other artists featured in the great room. Fraser presented a 14” wide batik with a tree design, using eggplant, black and brown to amplify wet bark, and give a sense of the final dyes. Spanish moss offers the batik an atmospheric texture.
The architects had to return to the sound engineers to provide exact proportions for the television and speakers. When Fraser requested the architect’s schematic, they were surprised that the artist was a stickler for detail. The math of the windows in the great room were repeated in the paneled batiks of Chadwick II. The art was made to precise specifications and the client loved the results. All were delighted. Emails, telephone calls, and meetings on site helped everyone to remain involved from January until the September installation.
The framer, who installed the art on a floating track similar to a hospital “privacy curtain”, had the most technically challenging task. Using a ball bearing hidden system mounted from the ceiling worked well. The large television cover moves by clear plastic pull behind the stationary panels to the right, creating a new piece of art. The metal was powder-coated to match the wall tile. Teflon was added to slide easily with no paint loss. Cooperation, conversation, and mutual respect are key, plus a fine client hiring talented people. The solution came from the teamwork provided by each person involved including a creative framer.
Batik is a wax-resist technique of dyeing textiles, where wax is used to define lines and edges, then removed between layers of newsprint with a hot iron when dyeing is complete. Often 4 of more dye baths combining 7 or more colors are used between each layer of wax. Silk is Fraser's chosen canvas. She merges the ancient medium of batik with modern technologies of fiber-reactive Proceon dyes, digital photography, and satellite imagery. Flying since childhood has endowed Fraser with a unique perspective, depicting the terraqueous landscape, where realms of earth, sea and sky converge, vibrantly and with geographic accuracy.