Steven Frost is an artist and educator based in Boulder, where he has been instrumental in spreading the transformative nature of weaving and textiles through popular, community-based gatherings. His approach combines narrative elements of personal memorabilia with queer culture, and the results take craft sensibilities into formally engaging visual territory. Frost’s influences include everything from suburban kitsch to Anni Albers’ textiles, and his experimentation extends from the center of these disparate concepts.
In his new large-scale installation for Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Frost elevates the personal story of his Aunt Helen and her partner Alice to a position that cannot be overlooked. Draped over the second story of the historic brick building, an enormous green and white woven grid partially covers the exterior walls. Imagination might dictate that it also blankets the roof, although this is not the case. Using plastic webbing as found on ordinary lawn chairs, Frost exaggerates this common pattern to an almost aggressive level. He pushes color and scale to create maximum volume, while simultaneously telling the tender story of lifelong partnership and simple backyard pleasure. The contrast between the dramatic wrap of the building and the intimate personal history that motivates Frost is key to the experience of this work.
Seen from the ground below, the gridded weave has an intensity that welcomes questioning visitors with several possible interpretations. Activism, storytelling, performance, and a rigorous pursuit of loud color are included in the mix of possible readings for this epic tribute to a lawn chair.
We are drawn into the story laid out above our heads through Frost’s adept use of materials that immediately garners our attention. Texture plays a role in our perception; unreachable and barely visible from the ground, the plastic weaving feels familiar to our senses. Our own memories of these webbed chairs are called up, as we see one that is bigger than life, waving overhead.
Frost literally weaves together ideas, people, and materials in celebration of the personally political. His use of color is intentionally brash, his references real and poignant. Undeniably bold, Helen and Alice at the Museum will remain on view for one year. Afterwards, Frost will create tote bags from the salvaged webbed material as it is removed from the building façade. Available in the museum gift store, these tote bags will remind us that Helen and Alice were real people who confronted issues of acceptance for their partnership and did not believe it was safe for them to be who they were. That is a lot of history to carry around in a tote, but Steven Frost will make it easy for us.
— Essay by Kate Petley
About Steven Frost
Steven Frost (b. 1981, Woodsville, NH) has been featured in solo and two-person exhibitions at Basement Projects (Santa Ana, CA), CU Art Museum (Boulder, CO), 350 E 3rd/ ArtX (Long Beach, CA), Robert Bills Contemporary (Chicago, IL), Coop Gallery (Nashville, TN), and Pleasant Plains Workshop (Washington, D.C.) and in group exhibitions at Union Hall Gallery (Denver, CO), the Center for Visual Arts (Denver, CO), Alto Gallery (Denver, CO), Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA), Imersten (Vienna, Austria), and ACRE Gallery (Chicago, IL), among other venues. He has taught workshops at the Penland School of Craft (Bakersville, NC), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Haystack School of Crafts (Deer Isle, ME). Frost is the founder of the Colorado Sewing Rebellion and co-founder of the Experimental Weaving Residency (Boulder, CO). He holds an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is an instructor in the Media Studies Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Launched in 2016, BMoCA InsideOut is an exhibition platform located on the northwest corner outside of BMoCA. A site for temporary artistic intervention and public discourse, BMoCA InsideOut will feature rotating commissions from local and international artists who push the boundaries of public art. The temporary installations enliven the Civic Area by sparking dialogue between the community, artist, and museum about art and topics relevant to today.
Upcoming Exhibition Events:
4/9/20: Opening Reception for Helen & Alice at the Museum