"Toronto artist Colleen McCarten uses weaving, sewing and other fibre practices to reexamine the legacies of 20th-century avant-garde movements such as Minimalism, hard-edge abstraction and Op art. Unlike her forebears, McCarten embraces the handmade qualities of her processes and materials, drawing attention to their natural imperfections and the labour of craft-based production."
Description from Canadian Art Magazine 2015 Auction Catalogue Item #52 (2015)
"Colleen McCarten’s weaving explores how handmade weaving warps and creates optical illusion through its natural flaws. McCarten weaves together black cotton string with fishing line and other non-traditional materials to create contrasting visual effects. The work connotes movement similar to a hologram or a Magic Eye poster. The eye blurs as it focuses on the work. McCarten further exploits these visual effects by placing a woven textile sample over a hand drawn weaving pattern in black ink on white paper. The drawing sample fixed behind the woven piece complicates the dimensional and tactile nature of the work, inviting the viewer to move closer to the piece. On closer inspection, the underlying layer of artifice becomes visible, referencing both the act of pattern creation and use of pattern as template in her work. McCarten both references and pays homage to textile process and the ‘sampler’, a test or practice piece created first before beginning a larger project. McCarten’s work does not necessarily launch into a larger project, as each small sampler is the finished product. The work exists as an open ended question about process, pattern, the hand-made and imperfections.
Brette Gabel, excerpt from her exhibition essay for Pattern Makers (2015)
"There are certain materials we associate with the heroism of modern art movements-- oil paint, steel, and maybe wood. McCarten addresses perceptions of value in art through unconventional pairings of textile processes such as knitting and weaving with muscular materials like metal and rubber. In some cases, the results are predictable; in others, they are utterly surprising-- one example is a textile made of wire that looks lighter than air itself.
The topic of value lies in questions central to McCarten's investigation: Does changing the material, scale, or technique alter the value of the piece, and if so, (is this rooted in an inherently) sexist devaluation of a medium? This brings us back to the Quilters of Gee's Bend, whose legacy is fraught with other isms, namely racism and classism. While the quilts made in Gee's Bend have finally found their way into the realm of value (ie: museums and private collections), the question of what factors influence a work's value can be a highly contentious issue. McCarten's binary-blending work interrogates the nature of value and disrupts cut-and-dry notions o it. More importantly, she is working towards the interrogation of something less nebulous and much deeper than the question of value-- the role of oppression in the mapping of the history of art as we know it"
Tara Bursey, excerpt from her exhibition essay for Fabricate (2013)