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L.A. Times: Critic’s Choice Channing Hansen knits restless webs of line and color

Work in fiber by Channing Hansen at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles. (Jeff McLane / Marc Selwyn Fine Art)
Work in fiber by Channing Hansen at Marc Selwyn Fine Art in Los Angeles. (Jeff McLane / Marc Selwyn Fine Art)

 

By Leah Ollman
March 14, 2016

Channing Hansen’s work emerges boisterously, brilliantly, at the intersection of chance, science, feminism and back-to-the-hand aesthetics. His first show at Marc Selwyn Fine Art is enthralling.

Born and based in L.A., Hansen has a restless mind and restless fingers, which took up knitting a decade ago and now turn out wildly restless webs of line and color. His knotted, pulled and stringy fields, stretched across frames like paintings, were among the highlights of the Hammer’s 2014 “Made in L.A.” biennial.

Nine large recent works are on view at Marc Selwyn, as is a grid of 25 smaller panels that serve as a kind of index to Hansen’s techniques and motifs: his play of loose and open knotting against tighter, denser fields; pairs of gaping holes with softly twisted strands between them suggesting an infinity symbol; thick rolls of knitted matter that sit heavily atop the surface; long slits stitched up like scars.

Hansen spins and dyes his own fibers, an artisan mix whose provenance is “fully accounted for in the title information (“Alpaca, Bluefaced Leicester, California Variegated Mutant [Nyssa]…”). The titles — “K2: AR:03,” for instance — refer cryptically to the computer algorithm that generated the “score” he follows to create each piece. There is randomness involved, but also an obvious lineage.

These pieces descend from a generation or two of fiber-based art, made mostly by women reclaiming traditional feminine crafts and investing them with new, self-determined power. Faith Wilding’s “Crocheted Environment” (dubbed the “Womb Room”), made for L.A.’s Womanhouse in 1972, the year Hansen was born, was clearly formative. Hansen collaborated with Alexandra Grant in a reinterpretation of the installation in 2011. His current work follows that thread, in a dozen exciting directions.