2019 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Visual Arts
UltraViolet, an art exhibition produced by local artist Darcy Falk, was on view at the Open Doors: Art in Action Gallery at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, August 3 through September 11, 2018. The show was featured at the August and September First Friday ArtWalks, as well as at an August 17th public forum which included presentations by the artist and several local nonprofit organizations concerned with women’s issues.
Stitched into intricate fabric creations and viewed under UltraViolet lights, Falk’s pieces reveal hidden messages. Ultraviolet light allows the viewer to see the unseen. “Making artworks that only reveal their truest meaning when you look closely in the right light seems appropriate for telling women’s stories,” explains Falk, “since women’s concerns haven’t always been seen, heard, or taken seriously.”
“Women’s needs and voices have often been hidden, not clearly seen or heard, so I think illuminating the messages in the pieces brings these concerns into the light,” says Sue Norris, a representative of the Open Doors gallery. “People might get upset, and if they get upset they get upset, but we are trying to bring awareness. That’s the purpose of the gallery. People take a stand or they don’t, but the point is when you become aware, perhaps you’ll do something about it.”
The overall impact of the exhibition was part history lesson with pieces Suffragist and Request, part awareness campaign Battlefield and Courage, and part exhortation The Price of Silence and Superwoman 2.0. The Kevlar Kimono, advocating for reproductive freedom, was also on display. With the Kevlar Kimono Falk stumbled into this inquiry, then further developed her line of questioning through work made for UltraViolet.
From Flagstaff Live! article on 8/15/18 by Gabriel Granillo:
“If we don’t speak up, who controls the conversation?” says Falk.
For Falk, that’s the essence of Ultraviolet: adding to the conversation. Letting women’s voices be heard without someone talking over or condescending, allowing them to speak up against injustice. She’s hesitant to see her exhibit as only related to the #MeToo movement, saying that, though the movement is relavant, the work should also be viewed in the larger context of the “serious assaults on our human rights” by the current administration.
Through metaphor, Falk has created a work that is delicate and daring, both interactive and interpersonal. Ultraviolet is a stunning and important exhibit that speaks on behalf of more than just women’s rights, but human rights.
Falk on on her process: I start with a general, often broad idea, and then begin research, collecting notes and images, and putting everything in a reference folder. Sometimes I refer back to that information often and make notes during the creative process. Other times I don’t touch it again until the piece is complete and I’m writing a statement to accompany it. Only when that research process is mostly complete do I begin the physical artwork. I hold a very deliberate intention in my mind as I choose fabrics and cut pieces for the collage. In some ways, the piece tells me what to do next. I am fortunate enough to have a wide range of technical skills, and sometimes (like for UltraViolet), I get to use almost all of them.
For example, after I created the background collage for Battlefield, I cut the ‘paper doll’ pieces out, dyed the background for the blue sky area, screen-printed the ultraviolet-activated acrylic message on the blue sky, then dyed a piece of silk organza that covered that blue sky area to give it more depth and interest. I machine-stitched part of the piece, but hand-stitched the blue sky area.
For Suffragist, I chose fabric, made the collage, then printed several versions of the Lucy Burns image onto organza. I found the antique napkin in my stash (the white area behind Lucy’s photo), then layered and stitched the silk organza image onto the napkin with 101 lines of stitching, one for every year since her imprisonment. The screen-printed message was printed onto the surface of the collage. The quote from her was printed onto silk organza, and the pieces were either hand or machine stitched into place.
Each step takes time, but that time allows me to think about what the next step might be; even though I start with a deliberate idea, the pieces develop very intuitively.
Many of the pieces of fabric included in these pieces have been hand-dyed and/or hand printed by me for other projects, but I almost never throw anything away. In Courage, for example, I used fabrics that I had originally screen-printed for the Kevlar Kimono.
Support from the community:
“By combining her artworks with advocacy by local organizations concerned with women’s health and civil rights, I believe Ultraviolet changed hearts and minds.”