There’s almost nothing better than seeing a man sew. Darrel Morris uses the gender-specific, utilitarian medium in order to materialize dark humor and edgy wit, and the result is more than gratifying. Whereas feminist art practice has already turned craft on its head and situated it into a conceptual context, Morris has a fresh take on this approach and it definitely has to do with the fact that he is not a woman. Morris’ work champions the narrative of manhood depicted in the female-oriented form of embroidery. “Decline and other new works” travels through the male life-cycle from boyhood to old age with close investigation. Displayed are small, preparatory studies that Morris uses to translate into hand-embroidered pieces, sometime larger, often more intense. “Homemade Hair Cut” shows a boy receiving an agonizing haircut from his mother, which leads us to another panel, the young, virile athlete in relation to his austere high-school coach. At the end of this cycle are “Defeat” and “Decline,” which show a man conflicted and alone in older age. In between these poles is the glorification of youth and the fear, almost adamant disgust, of growing into an old, old man. (Karissa Lang)
Darrel Morris, “Decline and other new works,” shows through January 5 at gescheidle, 1039 West Lake, (312)226-3500.