Collection Focus: Mary Giles

Racine Art Museum

Oct. 21, 2024 - Jul. 3, 2021

441 Main Steet
Racine, 53403
PHONE 262.638.8300

Favoring the technique of coiling—a process associated with Native American basket traditions—Mary Giles (1944–2018) moved between three and two dimensions throughout her career as a fiber sculptor. She created wall pieces, in addition to sculpture, that suggests aspects of the environment, human figures, and vessels. One of the artist’s most distinctive additions to her works were thin metal strips—some shaped as human figures—that she layered over a surface or core. In addition to creating texture contrasts and adding color, shine, and form, the choice of metal further underscored her interest in the human condition. She stated, “Over time, some of these metals are going to change, and that’s fine…That’s part of all of our processes—nature’s process, the aging process.”

In its current makeup, Racine Art Museum (RAM)’s fiber collection is anchored by artists interested in baskets and basketmaking techniques. Mary Giles, with 19 pieces now at RAM and others promised, is one of the most well-represented fiber artists with works spanning over three decades. RAM has been acquiring Giles’ work since the early 2000s through gifts from donors, but these pieces have never been brought together in a single gallery space until now.

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