Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand

March 5, 2021–August 15, 2021

Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand (exhibition view). Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Minutes of Sand, Elisabeth Kley’s first solo museum show, features an entirely new body of work. Invited to print yardage utilizing FWM’s world-renowned screenprinting facilities, Kley is interweaving her ceramic and painting practices with three new yardage designs and a new suite of ceramic sculpture for the exhibition.

Elisabeth Kley’s work sits at the distinctive confluence of pattern, decoration, and contemporary art. Known for her black-and-white patterns featured in ceramics, drawings, paintings, and site-specific installations, the artist draws inspiration from motifs featured in ornamentation, architecture, interior decoration, and a myriad of global art traditions. Merging the ancient and modern, Kley translates these fragments into an interdisciplinary practice conveying ideas of opulence and mystery.

“Elisabeth Kley looks for inspiration from global art and architecture histories,” states FWM Curator Karen Patterson. “Islamic tile work from Central Asia, Spain, and North Africa can be seen in her geometric and floral patterns. Her bold, abstract lines are inspired by Roman frescoes and mosaics, Egyptian hieroglyphics, or Coptic, Indian and Wiener Werkstätte textile designs. And yet she conveys these motifs with a contemporary edge, one that feels both handmade and in motion.”

The new yardage designs developed in collaboration with FWM for Minutes of Sand present a distinct but complementary trio unified by their vibrant colors and graphic patterns. Each was printed on site during Kley’s screenprinting residency, part of an initiative by Patterson to reignite residencies similar to those foundational to FWM in the 1970s. The exhibition also presents a new series of ceramic works developed in the artist’s Brooklyn studio. Standing in contrast to the exuberant colors in the yardage, these new ceramics are painted in Kley’s signature black-and-white style.

FWM’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program enables artists to take their work in fresh and often unexpected directions. The program’s collaborative focus inspires the creation of new work, contributing to a permanent collection of some 5,000 artworks and an archive that preserves and illustrates the course of artistic production. Printmaking is integral to FWM’s history and remains a vital part of its mission. In the 1970s, celebrated artists benefited from three-week opportunities to create new yardage that would later inform their burgeoning contemporary art practices. Now, more than forty years later, the short-term screenprinting residency program is being reignited for a new cadre of artists.

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The Fabric Workshop and Museum
First Floor Gallery

Art in This Exhibition

Artists in This Exhibition

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About the Artist

American, lives in New York, NY.

Elisabeth Kley (b. New York) received her BA from Empire State College and studied at Hunter College. Her ceramics, watercolors, drawings and prints have been featured in an exhibition history spanning over 25 years; recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Garden: Elisabeth Kley and Tabboo!, Gordon Robichaux, New York, NY (2019); Elisabeth Kley, Window on Broad, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA (2019); Flowers Out of Water, Pierre Marie Giraud, Brussels, Belgium (2017); Ozymandias, CANADA, New York, NY (2016); translucent threads of dawn (with Conrad Ventur), Regina Rex, New York, NY (2015); and A Sign of Eternal Beauty (with Florence Derive), GAVLAK, Palm Beach, FL (2015). She is represented by CANADA; the gallery published a monograph on her work with Pre-Echo Press in 2019. In 2023, The Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts co-published Minutes of Sand, celebrating her traveling exhibition resulting from her FWM residency.


Both Hard/Cover and Elisabeth Kley: Minutes of Sand (March 5, 2021 – August 15, 2021) were made possible with generous support from The Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Girlfriend Fund, Harry Hu, Rob Hayes, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Jessica Silverman Gallery, Maja Paumgarten and John Parker, The Woodman Family Foundation, Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Flavor Paper, and Canada Gallery.