Art Clearing.72FEATURE

Published on January 31st, 2013 | by Elizabeth Coleman


Review: “Interlace” at Traywick Contemporary

In a few words...

Summary: "Interlace" is a peaceful repose from the stresses of everyday life, inviting viewers to pause and reflect.



When was the last time you meditated? The last time you took a moment for yourself to clear your mind of all the idle chatter and useless dialogue? The last time you focused on something other than your job, your to-do list or the current drama in your life? Dharma Strasser MacColl’s latest exhibit, Interlace, currently on display at Traywick Contemporary in Berkeley, California, helps you do just that, inviting you to pause and take a moment for yourself.

Strasser MacColl’s works on paper incorporate porcelain, silk thread, felt and gouache to create sculptural patterns and delicate lace-like cutouts. She starts with handmade and hand-dyed Nepalese Lokta paper, tearing down and piecing together blocks of color with careful stitching. She then plays with negative and positive space, cutting out geometric patterns and stitching small porcelain discs and beads together to create intricate arrangements.

Grey and White Interlace by Dharma Strasser McColl

Interlace is Strasser MacColl’s second solo show at Traywick Contemporary. The gallery makes its home in a converted Masonic temple, and chose to work with the existing architecture during renovations so that the space resembles a modern, sophisticated living room, dining room and kitchen area with a showroom floor. The home décor of Traywick Contemporary allows viewers to have a more comfortable, intimate, and relaxed encounter with the work than a more minimalistic gallery.

Aside from Strasser MacColl, the gallery is currently displaying David Sleeth’s installation, Drift, a collection of large sculptures made from fixed-together cardboard and carved to resemble wood — a nice balance to Strasser MacColl’s organic designs.

10 Blooms by Dharma Strasser MacColl

Strasser MacColl’s work examines the combination of seemingly contradictory elements: materials that appear simultaneously hard and soft, negative and positive space, the constructed and the organic. Visual resting places and moments of quiet reflection and meditation are interspersed into her work as well. In her piece, Clearing, hundreds of tiny white porcelain beads are sewn into Lokta paper, resulting in a hybrid drawing-sculpture piece that resembles white grainy sand or pebbles, and blurs two-dimensional and three-dimensional boundaries. An untouched section of brown paper rests amidst the porcelain beads; this cleared space acts as a mental pause, inviting the viewer to fill in their own possibilities about the piece.

Orange Interlace by Dharma Strasser MacColldetail of Orange Interlace by Dharma Strasser MacColl


Indeed, Strasser MacColl’s work is an exploration of Ma, the Japanese word for “the space between.”  It is only through pause that form has, well, form. A popular example lies with music. It is only the pause between notes, however slight, that gives a piece any sort of composition. With material objects, it is the negative space that gives form to the positive space: one cannot exist without the other. In meditation, the goal is to be aware of the space between the thoughts, and to cultivate pauses in the constant mental noise.

Suspend III by Dharma Strasser McCollStrasser MacColl has a unique ability to create pieces that simultaneously resemble multiple and paradoxical objects, adding different layers of dimensionality to the constructs. In Orange Interlace, Strasser MacColl highlights this negative space through lace-like patterns that resemble flower bursts and bubbles. The orange color throughout the piece is reminiscent of Buddhist monk robes and evokes a striking yet calming tone. Another piece, Stone Lace, is entirely focused on the negatie space of the cutouts, resembling mosaic patterns or even scattered seeds on the earth.

Strasser MacColl’s work also examines fluidity and subtle movement. Some of her pieces resemble strings of freshwater pearls, or perhaps dew upon spider webs. In Suspend III, the eye naturally follows the arc of the dangling strings, set against a blue backdrop, sweeping through the piece and creating a sense of calm through the eye’s motion. In Small Transmit, a starburst pattern set against a moss-green background, the eye naturally jumps to each of the grey and white porcelain disks radiating out from the center of the circular form, like skips of stone on water, fading as they get further away from the initial impact before being drawn once again to the center.

Ultimately, though, Strasser MacColl’s pieces are visual mediations, jumping between form and non-form to create a profound awareness of “the gap:” the fleeting moment “in between.” The result is a peaceful repose and an escape for the mind from the stresses of everyday life, adding a rich sense of meaning to the ability to pause.

Interlace runs through March 9 at Traywick Contemporary. Visit for more information about Dharma Strasser MacColl and her work.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Coleman is an attorney and writer, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA and a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law, where she received a certificate in public interest and social justice and served as an articles editor on their law review. Apart from her legal career, Elizabeth enjoys writing short stories and dabbling in art (the messier, the better!), and previously was a regular contributor to SWOOP Magazine. She has recently started working on her first book, a young adult fantasy novel about lucid dreaming and parallel realities. Read her blog at

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