Charles LeDray, Clothesline, 1994. Fabric, thread, embroidery floss, metal beads, and buttons. Approximately 16 feet (487.8 cm). Promised gift of Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté. Courtesy the artist and Sperone Westwater. © Charles LeDray
Charles LeDray has produced an extensive body of work in diverse sculptural materials, from textiles and ceramics to carved human bone. LeDray moved to New York in the late 1980s and began showing in group exhibitions, despite not having formal training as an artist. At that time, his work responded to the HIV/AIDS crisis, which was affecting gay communities, and frequently featured dismembered teddy bears to create politically- and socially-charged sculptures. Narrative, familiarity, and cultural history are powerful forces in LeDray’s sculptural work, which also touches on issues of work, manual labor, and gender roles.
For over thirty years, LeDray has employed stitching to form sculptures out of hundreds of individual components. Clothesline is an example of how LeDray uses everyday objects and the intimacy of hand-stitched cloth. These doll-sized clothes hang from the ceiling in a striking downward line and pool in a swirl on the floor. The work is captivating with its miniature scale, realistic detail, and poetic reflections on individuality and collectivity.
In 2010, the ICA/Boston mounted a large solo exhibition of LeDray’s work, and the acquisition of Clothesline, which joins another impressive textile work by LeDray, reflects the museum’s commitment to the artist. This work augments the museum’s holdings of works that encompass found objects and the textile medium by such artists as Tara Donovan, Josh Faught, and Rachel Harrison.
Promised gift of Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté