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*Featured image: Five Hoops (2022), Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Quillwork on paper, 22 x 15″

Backwards and Forwards: Reflections in Porcupine Quills


Curated by Aram Han Sifuentes

July 27 – September 17, 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday July 30, 2022 | 1:00-3:00pm

Backwards and Forwards: Reflections in Porcupine Quills features recent quillworks (2020-present) by Vanessa Dion Fletcher. These works range from intimate pieces on paper to large mural installations. At the core is a negotiation between the artist’s hands and porcupine quills. She pulls them from the body of a porcupine, stains them using natural and synthetic dyes, handpicks each quill based on its color, shape, and size, and bends them onto paper with thread. The building up of the quills form abstract shapes and lines that are elemental and can be interpreted in multiple ways, where a circle in quillwork can represent time, a color wheel, and a portal all at once. Slowness is an important political aspect of Dion Fletcher’s practice. The making is inherently slow, and the intended experience for the viewers is also slow, where one slowly follows the lines and details of the quillwork and gradations of color. Slowness is also a reflection on neurodiversity, where ‘being slow’ is a derogatory term used for those who are neurodiverse. In emphasizing slowness through porcupine quills, Vanessa Dion Fletcher claims indigeneity in process and craft but also approaches and understandings of neurodiversity and disability. Backwards and Forwards, in title, not only suggests a reverse way of reading, but also a looking back to be able to move forward. 

Join us for the opening reception of Backwards and Forwards on Saturday July 30 from 1 – 3 pm. 

Vanessa Dion Fletcher is a Lenape and Potawatomi neurodiverse Artist. Reflecting on an Indigenous and gendered body with a neurodiverse mind, Dion Fletcher creates art using composite media, primarily working in performance, textiles and video.

Aram Han Sifuentes is a Korean American social practice fibre artist, writer, curator, and an adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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