Fairbanks’s work explores structures and effects embedded in the intersections of cloth that, because of their small scale, often go unseen and unconsidered. By inflating the scale, embedded layers of labor and sophisticated math-based systems are exposed. Wall weaving installations made out of fluorescent flagging tape display the magnified structures in a radical palette of neon plastic material that feels electric and loud. Through drawings and jacquard weavings, Fairbanks poses questions around value, labor, and time more quietly. Fairbanks’s approach to color, process, and material offers a fresh and witty point of entry into the dialogue and tension that persists between high vs low, and industrial vs handmade.
Marianne Fairbanks is a visual artist, designer, curator and Assistant Professor of Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Fibers and Material Studies and her BFA from the University of Michigan in Fibers. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in venues including The Museum of Art and Design, NY, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, and Museum London, Ontario. Fairbanks is a founding member of Mess Hall, an experimental cultural space in Chicago, and co-founder of Noon Solar, a small business that made wearable solar technology to charge personal electronics. For 10 years she was part of the collaborative art group, JAM. Additionally, she is conducting collaborative research with a chemist to create a solar textile.