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Forms of Forms of Forms | Lena Wolff

September 1 @ 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm


Drawing from American folk-art and craft traditions, the work of Bay Area artist Lena Wolff is at once connected to histories of minimalism, Op art, feminist and political art. Forms of Forms of Forms presents new material and fabrication explorations made during her residency at Local Language, alongside drawings and collages from her studio and archives of her activism.

Longstanding correlations between quilts, democracy, craft, and civic engagement permeate Wolff’s practice. On site at Local Language, Wolff experimented with carved plaster drawings and layered low-relief wood sculptures based on the geometries of lyric quilt patterns that are the visual basis of much of her current work. Over the decades, the iconography of American quilts has evolved into a central focus of her studio activity, in which she regularly translates, repeats, and metamorphosizes quilt patterns into delicate pen drawings, collages made with hand-cut and painted papers, and large-scale wood sculptures in the shape of quilt forms. The patterns represent a visual language often shared between women, passed down for centuries and across communities in our nation’s fraught history, linking the past and the future, the personal and the political. Interwoven with a lexicon of ubiquitous quilt patterns, she often includes new symbols in her work that represent social justice, motifs from nature, queer culture, and the greater universe that is our home. When placed together, a kind of grammar is created, a layered narrative meaning, through the specific arrangements of multiple forms.

Together her work gives rise to an interplay of poetically related images – a call and response – emblematic of the interconnectedness of patterns in the universe, the natural world, and the ongoing pursuit of equality.

Lena Wolff is a visual artist, craftswoman, and activist for democracy who has lived and worked in the Bay Area since the early 1990s. In recent years, in addition to her studio work in drawing, collage and wood sculpture, she generated several widely-visible projects that contribute to civic engagement, including an anti-hate poster campaign in the Bay Area and a public art initiative to boost voter participation that gained national reach in the past three election cycles in the US. Her work has been exhibited across the country and collected by ONE National Lesbian and Gay Archives, the Berkeley Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Oakland Museum of California, the San Francisco History Collection at San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Arts Commission, Alameda County Arts Commission, Cleveland Clinic, University of Iowa Museum, and the Zuckerman Museum of Art, among others. She lives with her wife, artist, teacher, and illustrator, Miriam Klein Stahl and their daughter in the East Bay. On November 12, 2018, Mayor Jesse Arreguin named “Lena Wolff and Miriam Klein Stahl Day” in the city of Berkeley for their work that merges art and civic engagement.


September 1
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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Oakland Art Murmur
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Local Language
477 25th Street
Oakland, CA Oakland, CA, 94612 United States
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