June 9th to September 8th, Crêpe Paper Carpets will be on view in Houston
The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University is commissioning Dutch collective WE MAKE CARPETS to create a site-specific installation for its Central Gallery. This exhibition is the first time that Marcia Nolte, Stijn van der Vleuten, and Bob Waardenburg, the artists of WE MAKE CARPETS, will show their colorful and surprising work in the U.S. Eschewing a preconceived plan, the artists decide only the location, size, and material prior to the intuitive, labor-intensive marathon by which they create their artworks. They call these pieces “carpets” in light of the works’ rectangular shapes and frequently symmetrical and intricate designs.
WE MAKE CARPETS often celebrates local materials in its works. For their Moody installation, the artists were inspired to use vibrantly dyed crêpe paper after a visit to Houston and seeing the bright colors and handmade production of piñatas. Crêpe Paper Carpet will be constructed over a multi-week period in the Central Gallery where floor-to-ceiling windows will allow it to be seen by viewers both in and outside the building. The public is invited to the free opening celebration on Saturday, June 9 from 11:00am to 2:00pm, and the artists will give a gallery talk at 11:00 am.
The carpets are not meant to be touched either. But it sometimes happens anyway. ‘Muisjes’ Carpet suddenly had an imprint of a finger. A visitor nibbled on Candybar Carpet (below).
But to glue everything down or put an art barrier around it? No. That doesn’t fit with the work. From a distance it may look like a carpet but you have to come close to see it is actually made of clothes pegs. Or some other everyday product.
The trio made their first carpet in 2009. They were collaborating in the ‘Instant Nature’ exhibition during that year’s Dutch Design Week. In the forest they collected pine cones and needles. These became Forest Carpet. The shape appealed to them and they developed their collaboration making six more carpets. ‘There never was a preconceived plan, like “from now on the three of us will make carpets”. It just happened. At the same time we had the feeling it might lead somewhere.’
The carpets come about in the same way: naturally. There is no design. The material, location and size are set but other than that they work intuitively. Anyone can begin. In the center. Follow long days on their knees or in other uncomfortable positions. Often till deep at night. ‘It’s a bit like meditating. We work in unity, always with the three of us, hardly taking any breaks.’
This method can also take its toll. Brick Carpet was their first paid assignment. It was a large outdoor piece of twenty by thirty meters. Two lorries full of bricks arrived. ‘Watching them dump their load was awesome.’ But the six days of sorting and laying that followed, gave Marcia a severe case of tendonitis. ‘My wrists were squeaking. Literally.’
WE MAKE CARPETS is more than the sum of its parts. The trio’s synergy is remarkable. They talk the same way they work. Sentences are completed halfway by someone else. If Bob digresses during a conversation, Stijn will return to the original topic. Together they formulate their answers.
This exhibition is supported by the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam
The Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University was designed by renowned Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan. The architect’s striking contemporary design, with its bold geometric shapes and inviting transparency, creates a beacon on Rice’s campus while affirming the Moody’s mission to foster connections across disciplines.
The $30 million, 50,000 square-foot building serves as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines, a flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of learning, and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists.
The Moody was the recipient of a 2017 Design Honor Award from the AIA California Council. The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) Design Awards Program strives to recognized projects that have inspired architectural design thought and exhibit formal, technological, and spatial innovations.
The mission of the Moody Center for the Arts is to encourage creative thinking and original expression, enrich curricular innovation, and promote cross-campus and community collaboration through transformative encounters with the arts.