“It wasn’t until graduate school,” the artist Ellen Lesperance, now 49, told Artspace in 2016, “that I really got into the visual vocabulary of knitting: its not-square but grid-based formatting, the conventions of its pattern layouts, its language for writing a pattern—American Symbolcraft.” Lesperance’s colorful gouache paintings are abstract maps of female bodies, feminism compressed into the deconstructed shapes of traditional knitting instructions. Lesperance’s art is powerfully engaged with social action, but in the visual calculus of knit and purl. “Velvet Fist” continues the Baltimore Museum of Art’s pointed prioritization of women artists. —L.J.
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