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Classification: Textile

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Image of Aftermath

Michael Olszewski
American, born 1950



Object Type: Textile
Creation Place: North America, American, Pennsylvania
15 in. x 14 1/2 in. (38.1 cm x 36.83 cm)
Medium and Support: Silk
Accession Number: 1997.0015

Credit Line: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase

Olszewski uses varying types of fabric in his pieces, each chosen to accommodate a particular need. Silk and linen are most commonly used and each implies a different meaning. A piece titled Uncertainty uses wool, a very dense fabric, tactilely representative of that state. He states, "I couldn't use a transparent silk to convey that idea. It simply wouldn't be appropriate for it." As a contrast to the density of the fabric in Uncertainty, a textile titled Juggling uses fabric that is more light-weight and therefore projects the agile, airy feeling implied by the title.

Olszewski pieces are carriers of emotion and are a cathartic way of dealing with the issues he is facing today as well as those he has dealt with in the past. By being specific in his craft, he tries to have the textile emit a certain emotion, thus evoking some sort of feeling from the viewer but not necessarily dictating a particular reaction. His work reflects the loss of loved ones, watching his mother's battle with Alzheimers, for example, or seeing close friends being affected by AIDS. Over the years his work has progressed to dealing with more universal issues than the work of his early years, which dealt predominately with self-discovery.

The mixed-media fabric construction in the MMFA collection, Aftermath, is a unique object. The piece projects an angry feeling through the red color choice and the hyperactive stitching. Underlying crosses here represent the center of one's being and the need for nurturing and healing. A multitude of concentric circles are present to allow the anger to have a reverberating effect. Aftermath is an expressive piece dealing with an intensely personal incident. As with his other works, this piece was meant to be cathartic, helping the artist come to terms with the incident.

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