Dani Leventhal’s multi-part project Feather-Stitch included a series of boldly graphic and tenderly personal drawings as well as a rammed earth platform for women performers, a vegetable garden, a cookout, and an outdoor evening video screening. In her investigation of issues of domesticity, identity, purpose, ethics and sexuality, Leventhal invited viewers of Feather-Stitch to both observe and participate in the rituals of her design: sacred, quotidian, personal and communal actions that were at once both poetic and playful.
In Feather-Stitch Leventhal brought together disparate elements that contain tethers and ties to some of the most basic and complex elements of life around us. Her interests in a garden, for example, range from the wonder of growth as the simple consequence of light, water, soil and care; to a concern for sustenance and close observation and experience of how we not only maintain our own life, but are also connected to other life forms; to a hidden humor in the phallic forms of vegetable and how their sexual uses could so easily coincide with their dinner possibilities. In the same way that she set up her surveillance camera to translate the multiplicity of vegetable growth into a representation, Leventhal wrote a list on the wall of the gallery that named the birds covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in an act intended to honor and understand the overlooked and marvelous that exist in our midst.
As part of the processual nature of this exhibition, the list-writing was ongoing, as was Leventhal’s series of drawings on paper. As the audience explored the exhibition, they were invited to ask the artist questions, step up onto and lay on the rammed earth platform, and to partake in a cookout and video screening.
Dani Leventhal received her MFA in Sculpture from UIC in 2003, and her MFA in film/video from Bard College in 2009. She has screened her work at Oberhausen, Rotterdam, The Gene Siskel Film Center, CineCycle and Anthology Film Archives.
Feather-Stitch was commissioned as one of the projects in the 2003 At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series.