On March 30, Biennial artist Elaine Reichek met with Youth Insights and New York City teens. After an introduction in the Museum’s fifth-floor conference room, she took us to see and discuss her work in the exhibition.
Seated cross-legged on the floor, our small group listened attentively as she explained the story behind the massive tapestry on the wall. She created it through a combination of contemporary technology and the services of a centuries-old weaving loom. That giant, amazing embroidered image is based on Titian’s painting, Bacchus and Ariadne. The technological process is lost on me, but a few items stood out in my memory from the story: Ariadne, labyrinths, Photoshop, and beasts. According to the Greek myth, Ariadne helps her lover Theseus escape from a labyrinth with a deadly minotaur, only to be left behind as Theseus abandons her. But the god Bacchus finds her on the shore and interrupts her lamentation to offer her not only marriage, but immortality: he will create a constellation for her in the sky. Elaine Reichek’s works in the Biennial are based on this story, modern perceptions of Greek culture, and the relationships between reason and passion, technology and art.
After we maneuvered through the crowd that had collected around us (Elaine is a master raconteur and her story-telling skills drew additional museum listeners), we returned to the fifth floor. There, we were presented with needles, linen, and thread. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we were a little scared. Elaine, however came to our rescue. She provided encouraging words and helped those who could not thread their own needle. I definitely needed assistance. By the end of the evening though, she was hovering above my shoulder saying “Ringer! We’ve got a ringer!” meaning that she thinks I’m a natural at embroidery!
By Rebecca, YI Leader