Date of this Version
Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario
Suellen Glahausser insisted she was a professional artist because she wasn’t suited for anything else. Just as she assigned herself a weekly day to see art in New York, packing a sandwich and apple so as not to waste precious time, Glashausser pushed her own work into new territory with each annual exhibit at Amos Eno Gallery, the cooperative she joined in 1976. Her titles were terse and descriptive: Mounds (1977), Stacks (1978), Fences (1979), Trestles (1980), Paper Shadows (1982), Columns/Wedges (1984), Gardens (1985), etc. They reflected her interest in structure, repetition and infinite variation. These concerns also appear in her books, which rather than being laboratories of ideas, became distillations of larger pieces. Despite its changeability, Glashausser’s work always was immediately identifiable. The person and work appeared one.
Trained as a painter at Manhattanville College, in Purchase, New York, Glashausser earned an M.F.A. at the University of California, Berkeley, under Ed Rossbach—a pioneer in the contemporary reinterpretation of textile structures. Two other Berkeley mentors--Joanne Segal Brandford, who taught textile history, and Lillian Elliot on off-loom techniques—based their innovative nets and baskets on ethnographic research. In 1976 Glashausser published a book on plaiting with Carol Westfall, head of the fibers program at Montclair State, where we three were colleagues. Before taking over the papermaking area, she offered a range of textile classes, along with occasional stints in drawing, and two-dimensional design.
Plaiting, rather than Minimalism probably accounts for the primacy of the grid in her books. As writers on feminism in the 1970s and 80s noted, many women artists, wrestling with fragmented time and limited space, used the grid as an organizing principle. For example, grids and serial imagery figure prominently in the process-driven sculpture of Jackie Winsor and Eva Hesse, as well as in plaited paper pieces by Neda al-Hilali. Glashausser also admired the subtle, all-white paintings of Robert Reiman, which deal with surface texture and mark-making. Her pages—layered, pricked and sewn—reward touch. However, the books show equal affinity to Pattern & Decoration. Painters like Kim Mac Connell and Miriam Shapiro recycled anonymous domestic linens, revaluing bright color and kitsch sensibility. Undeniably, a love of folk art, especially what the French call bricolage, was added to this mix.