A visit to Teresa Baker's Headlands Center Studio this past year – where she had been enjoying a year-long residency as the 2014 Tournesol Awardee – found her taking full advantage of the opportunity to expand upon and deepen her practice. Trying all kinds of new directions in her work – some successful, others not as much – Baker was experimenting with felt, drawing, cut paper and pure painting, and even affixing recognizable objects to her otherwise abstract creations. Thus, it was a pleasure to see her consummating exhibition at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco and to find that these investigations have resulted in a strong and engaging new body of work.
The six works on display are all fairly large and explore a diverse range of possibilities – from pure material to varying combinations of fabric and painted surfaces. An untitled piece consists solely of brown, stretched felt. Part of the felt folds and hangs over the top of the stretcher, breaking up the regularity of the frame and leading to a humble, expressive presence. While clearly adhering to fundamental 2-D elements of painting, one might also be reminded of Richard Serra's verb list, describing minimalist actions relating to sculpture, such as "to fold," "to hang."
shawl is echoed, but muted or painted over on the left, simultaneously suggesting presence and absence – which seems appropriate in a piece that references Baker’s Native American heritage. Baker is from the Hidatsa Tribe in North Dakota, and Mhazuetsa, which means sweet grass, is a revered material used in ceremonies and daily life to clear away bad spirits.