Arcadia Exhibitions Presents “Carole Loeffler: Make What You Need”

By Caitlin Burns | October 1, 2018

A lecture by the artist will be held on Oct.1 in the University Commons Great Room beginning at 4:30 p.m. with a reception to follow.

Arcadia Exhibitions is pleased to present “Carole Loeffler: Make What You Need,” an exhibition of ten, new text-based fabric works in the Rosedale Gallery, located on the ground floor of the University Commons. The first iteration of its new Faculty Focus series, the show remains on view through Feb. 10, 2019.

Each piece on view consists of either a vintage table runner or intricately ornate doily — embellished with encouraging, defiant, or reassuring texts such as “You are Invincible,” “I Will Not Break,” or “Don’t Give Up.” Each message is rendered in hand-cut red felt letters.

These works are recreations of pieces Loeffler first hung in public spaces and on brick walls, metal doors and telephone poles throughout Philadelphia beginning in January 2018. Titled “Granny Graffiti,” these gestures were initiated by Loeffler to produce random moments of empowerment and positivity for the occupants of the neighborhoods she frequents. Due to the ephemeral nature of these works (the originals are no longer where she placed them and their current whereabouts are unknown), Loeffler also documents her installations and posts them on social media, both as a means of preserving the activity and to expand the audience able to encounter her affirmations.

The specific messages selected for this exhibition were chosen based on their online popularity as determined by the number of likes the documentation received on her Loeffler’s Instagram feed. Additionally, for this particular show, Loeffler has provided a supply of hand-cut, red felt hearts, which visitors are encouraged to pin on the wall near the pieces they like – an analog equivalent to the social media experience which accompanies these works when installed outside the gallery context.

The lion’s share of Loeffler’s artistic output prior to the “Granny Graffiti” series is distinguished by a combination of playfulness, repetitive activity to the point of obsession, devotion to the color red, and an overall love of material experimentation. Though these earlier works can be deliberately anthropomorphic, and sometimes incorporate recognizable images or sounds, Loeffler’s visual vocabulary to this point in her career has been decidedly abstract.

The recent introduction of text into her work, “a reaction,” according to Loeffler, “to the toxic post-election, political environment that is enveloping the United States and the world,” exhibits a new sense of urgency to communicate and to be understood in a more direct way. The striking contrast between the speedily-cut, red felt letters adhered with hot glue to the delicate craftsmanship on display in the found table linens drives this point home. It leaves an impression that the words simply cannot wait. Youthful exuberance interrupts stoic tradition.

Loeffler’s “Granny Graffiti” deftly combines visual elements representing multiple phases of feminist activism, from suffragette banners of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the hand-drawn posters of more recent protest events, such as the Women’s Marches of 2017 and 2018. This project also synthesizes into a single gesture several distinct strategies of making found in feminist art from the 60s and 70s, including the convention of using dialogue to advocate for social change as well as the strategy of employing skills and crafts typically associated with women or homemaking within a fine art context. Despite these insightful nods to feminism’s political and artistic past, it is Loeffler’s own unique sense of immediacy, forthrightness, and wit that shines through most brightly in this exhibition.

This exhibition is the first iteration of a planned series of shows which focuses on the creative research of the University’s art and design faculty. Loeffler will give a lecture on Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the University Commons Great Room. An opening reception will be held immediately afterward in the Rosedale Gallery. Light refreshments will be served. Both events are free and open to the public.

The exhibition is curated by Matthew Borgen, and was made possible by a donation from Theresa and John Rollins. For more information about the exhibition, please contact Arcadia Exhibitions at (215) ­517-­2629 or

Gallery Hours:
Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.