In the New York Times' Sunday Style section, the New Museum's new chief curator, Richard Flood, describes a 1930s glass bowl streaked with steel wool designed by Venetian artist Ercole Barovier: "Steel wool is so repulsive to the touch. It gives me this little screaming thing under my fingernails. So it was fascinating to see it become a collaborative element in the glass. It's very seductive in its perversity." He loved it so much, he bought it on the spot.
He goes on to describe a new work—stored in a Chinese take-out container on his desk—which has, again, sparked that same uneasy happiness: a yarnlike ball of hand-spun steel wool given as a going-away present from an intern at the Walker Art Center, where he was deputy director for 12 years. Flood praised the contrasts of this "fetish item," which was created for the artist's 2002 thesis exhibition at Colorado College. "The fact that I know it's woven into this incredible texture doesn't change the feeling - but it does. You're holding something beautiful, not something utilitarian that feels unpleasant," he says. What he didn't reveal to the Times was the artist's name, a regular in the Walker's PR/Marketing department (and a name you might see here in the "via" parenthetical at the end of some of my posts), Giselle Restrepo.