Working with needle and thread, Raffy T. Napay celebrates the tenacity of wild verdure and the Mother Nature’s ability to flourish in spaces big and small. Life Line overwhelms the gallery space with embroidered lushness, from the tangled kudzu-like climbing and coiling of Go, Grow, Golden Heart to the poignant stubbornness of I Live Here (a diptych depicting a plant putting down roots in the cracks of a concrete wall).
The centerpiece of the show is an imposing eight-by-thirteen foot canvas titled Wild, Wild Grass. Dense patches of green are interspersed by woven rainbows of color, creating an Impressionistic and tactile field that beckons to be touched.
Napay includes a soft sculpture, Thread Blocks, which consists of a trio of faux concrete masonry units (CMUs) set upon a plinth. Multicolored strands crisscross over the blocks again and again and again, swallowing the drab gray that has become the default color of constructed cities.
Life Line is about survival, of eking out an existence no matter where you are placed, and finding the strength to thrive in unexpected places. These are lessons offered by a spider web (though now abandoned) claiming an old empty frame, or a pair of works showing a sensual carpet sprouting from the wall.
Where does man figure in Mother’s voracious appetite? Napay responds with two pieces that conceal the human form within their rampant and matted abundance. He hides, waits, bides his time and—like a germinating seed—prepares for the time of his flowering.