At Firehouse, It’s all in the knit

On Friday, Sept. 26 Burlington City Arts hosted the opening of Carol MacDonald’s new ex?hibition, “Cast on, Bind off,” at the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street. MacDonald is a print-making instructor at CCV and recent winner of the BCA’s Barbara Smail Award, consisting of a $1000 stipend and full access to all BCA facilities. MacDonald made use of these to explore “the tradition of knitting through a variety of print-making techniques,” according to the exhibit’s brouchure.Central to her artistic interest in this series of work is the meditative nature of repetitive tasks, and in particular, knitting. In her talk, MacDonald shared her belief that any repetitive process can provide “a connection to the soul.” It is fitting then that MacDonald has used one repetitive process, print-making, to describe another, knitting. She even adapted a drawing style to represent knitting’s repetitive nature.It is clear that MacDonald is very comfortable in a print-making studio. This, in turn, has allowed her to represent such a comforting concept in many different ways. She is able to combine the process?es of linocut, woodcut, monotype, etching, drypoint, drawing and painting into a cohesive whole. What is so interesting about the work is that though the process is so apparent, the exact process is often curiously unclear. She has broken down the process of knit?ting so well that she can represent it effectively in a variety of mediums.Her most effective representations of knitting’s meditative power are her series of “Knit Pattern” prints. In these large prints MacDonald put ink directly onto garments she knit herself and ran them through an etching press. Because of the way the pieces stretched as they went through the press and the way they are hung on the wall, they sag in the middle with a satisfying visual weight. The pattern and vibrant colors draw one in and the stable geomerty envelopes the viewer like the warm sweaters they bring to mind. All of this focus on the vital materiality of art and print-making and the ever-apparent meditative process of knitting is a welcome respite from an overly detached and increasingly electronic daily life. The work is refreshingly, perhaps defiantly, analog. Carol MacDonald’s “Cast on, Bind off” will be on display through Nov. 1.