The Marshall M. Fredericks Museum hosted a reception for Gerhardt Knodel’s “Minglings: A Journey Across Time” exhibit on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Knodel was available throughout to answer questions about his work, and he was excited for the opportunity to show his work at the museum.
“I was offered the opportunity to present the last two years of my studio work here, which is a special opportunity because all of this work comes from a single source,” Knodel said. “It’s all connected together, and it’s like putting a new novel out in the world.”
At the front of the exhibit lay colorful scraps from textiles that Knodel said he used to create the pieces at his metro-Detroit studio.
“Some people think it’s a sculpture that I made separately,” Knodel said. “That’s all the by-product of me cutting these tens of thousands of small components out of which most of the works are made. I thought I’d show the by-product of it, so people got involved with labor.”
History and labor were the driving inspirations of his exhibit.
“How do we hold hands with the past? What does the past mean to us today?” Knodel said. “I think it’s a big problem in the age in which we are living. Here in my exhibit, all the work is based off textile that’s 400 years old, and I feel as though I’m really holding hands with the person who created that textile. So the visitor of the exhibition gets to see fragments of a piece that has that age. I played the game of extending what he or she did into my time.”
Crafting each piece proved to be a labor-intensive endeavor.
“I work in my studio five days a week, 40 hours a week,” Knodel said. “I have a really rigorous work schedule. You can’t get anything of substance done without working hard. I hope people that come here to the exhibition have a sense of the time it takes to create these works and get involved with what they’re communicating as well.”
Knodel created each piece of the exhibit separately, but he believes they work together within the exhibit itself.
“Each piece has a separate function, but the big piece on the wall here called ‘Flower Powered’ is really the culmination of it all,” Knodel said. “It represents the journey of the original textile that was made in China but never used there. It went all the way to Portugal, carried on Spanish ships, where it was used by wealthy people in their beautiful homes for bed coverings. In this world, nothing of those textiles exist, but the fragment exists in my world.”
Entry into the exhibit is free, and it will be on display until May 19.
Knodel hopes attendees will walk away with a greater appreciation for the physical creation of textiles.
“I think there’s still power in making things,” Knodel said. “I’m talking about handling physical objects, physical materials. We need textiles in our world like we need wood, metal and all these things. I’m trying to find some new ways of working with the familiar material.”
Many attendees were impressed by the amount of labor Knodel put into each piece.
“I have a great appreciation of the time that artists put into their work,” said Fiouna Jae, a Bay City native. “I can’t image how long it took to make this exhibit. Everything looks great. The artist did a good job. It looks beautiful.”
Lilie Blu, an aspiring artist who moved to Bay City from Virginia, enjoyed the exhibit as well.
“‘Homecoming’ stood out to me the most,” she said. “I am definitely glad I came.”
Knodel encourages attendees to think about the journey he took when creating the exhibit pieces.
“I hope people try to figure out what my journey is about,” Knodel said. “If any of your readers want to send me their thoughts about what they think my journey was about, I’d be happy to hear it.”