Frances Trombly sculpts with fabric, and she hand-weaves and hand-embroiders sculpture. Her work has, since 2010, explored the potential of her fabric sculpture to shift form between paintings or sculptures. In other cases they accentuate architecture or the fabric itself. She does not use paint. In her 2010 show at Girls Club Collection, she stretched, leaned, floored and upholstered bare handwoven canvas. In Over and Under, her 2013 piece at Locust Projects, a bolt of hand-dyed vivid yellow fabric draped, zig-zag fashion, through the rungs of an aluminum scaffold. She sought to recall the forms of industrial looms, their usual purpose, and their history too. Textiles were one of the earliest innovations in the industrial revolution to take women from their cottage industries into a far more alienating workforce. She also refers to her own history (in the making) since the scaffold was purchased with funds in the budget for the show to support her alternative art space, which in turn supported her studio space. More key actions reveal themselves in this piece – work, time, drape and interconnectivity.
In a review for the Los Angeles Times, Leah Ollman wrote, “What confident trespassers, the works of Frances Trombly. Sculptures, weavings, installations — they meander into all sorts of territory, straddling genre lines and tunneling through hierarchical divides. They make a quietly defiant case for the complex richness of multiplicity, simultaneity.”
An early work by Frances Trombly is on view now at the NSU Art Museum in the exhibition Happy.
“I’m not interested in intricate and complex patterns, only pure forms that reveal the labor of making something that’s unseen or in the background. I’ve always been interested in the quiet labor that is overlooked or that we take for granted. I want to connect to the traditions of women’s labor and how it has always been in the background. The textile, in a way, was always the background of the painting. I don’t want to impress the eye into paying attention through complexities; I want to disappear into the work and allow the textile to be given its rightful place.”