“From Every Fiber” Exhibit
Yesterday I went to a fiber art exhibit at The Arts Center in College Station, Texas. Fortunately photography was allowed, so I can share it with those of you who can’t just drop over to see it in person.
My husband was with me and he was asking me basically what affects the way a piece draws my attention – does the craftsmanship enter in to my opinion? Or am I just looking at the creative idea? Do I expect traditional craft skills even when the concept is modern?
It was interesting to think about. Some of the pieces in the show had perfect craftsmanship, but not much to say, at least to me. Others might have had an interesting concept, but their construction from just big loops of yarn or small scraps of handmade paper didn’t inspire appreciation in me.
Here are five pieces that, for me, struck the perfect balance between creative concept and craftsmanship. I wouldn’t be able to say which of the two was more important to the finished piece.
I love this piece — every part of it is balanced, beautiful, and complete on its own, but all the pieces combined make the whole more beautiful. And every part has something extra, something that doesn’t need to be there to make the piece complete, but that adds more interest without overpowering the other elements. What I mean is, I would find just the ruffled paper skirt pleasing to look at, but then it’s combined with the delicate metal straps – the interplay of the dark and light, linear and solid, holds your eye. And then the subtle patterning on the paper adds another level of interest. I also like the play of the geometric floral pattern of the straps with the realistically formed flowers and stems.
Here is part of the artist’s statement about this work:
I create “conceptual clothing” that holds a visual memory of a specific time period and person in history. My goal is to capture a single moment in history and the feelings of the individual who experienced those events….. I strive to combine my expertise in paperwork and metalworking to harmoniously create art that is visually intriguing, harmonious, narrative, and wearable.
The artist, Tiffany Gordon, has been accepted to the Royal College of Art in London for an MA in the School of Material for Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork, and Jewellery. I look forward to seeing how her work develops.
This piece above was a very large knitted self portrait by Debra Goertz, I would say about 3 feet by 5 feet. I liked it for the unexpected combination of subject and medium, and for the interesting color choices on the shaded side of the figure.
The exuberance of this piece by Irene Schlesinger just fills me with joy. ALL THE COLORS!!! The lines going every which-a-way.
These two pieces by April Hartley hung side by side. They are about 8 inches (20 cm) square. I loved the idea of the different layers peeking through and affecting each other.
Her artist’s statement eloquently expressed what many of us feel:
Sewing is in my blood and it is part of my history. It not only links me to the women in my family tree, but it also connects me to people across cultures and the boundaries of time. It is possible that every human on earth has a relationship with fabric, be it utilitarian, expressive, ornamental, or sacred. This notion gives me a profound sense of belonging and purpose.
This one was my absolute favorite. The contrast of the filled-in areas with the outlines, and the classic pose with the vivid rectangles, gave me a whole new view of how expressive embroidery can be.
When I saw it, this piece struck me as peaceful. Sadly, the story behind it is the willful destruction of hundreds of thousands of ancient olive trees, which you can read on Martha Shade‘s blog. Learning about that tragedy gives me more appreciation for the way it is expressed in the embroidery.
There are about 20 more pieces in the exhibit, and none of them are quilts! interestingly enough. I was curious to know how these artists were selected, if the pieces were created specifically for this show, if there was a theme stated in advance, and so on, but there was no information given about the selection. There was a little brochure with each artist’s statement and a brief resumé. I would have liked to find more information about process and technique for each piece. Still, I got plenty of ideas and that is all you can ask!
The show is running through March 18, 2015.
I’m so glad you posted about this–so many wonderful exhibits out there and, yet, most of them will never make it anywhere near me. I like the first and last pieces especially. I’m very intrigued with the renaissance that seems to be brewing in embroidery and was fascinated with the Great Tapestry of Scotland so that embroidered piece just blows me away. And the first piece makes me think of all the ways one can combine different materials. My undergrad degree is in silversmithing and I have all the equipment and tools but rarely make anything. Maybe I need to think of ways to incorporate the metalwork into my weaving . . . .
I would love to hear about silversmithing! And it seems like it would blend wonderfully with weaving.
Maybe someday I’ll write about it–I feel a little bad because I never work on it. The technique I was most obsessed with, and pretty good at, weirdly, was a weaving technique. It’s an ancient Etruscan technique for making heavy, supple chains . . .lovely.
I never thought of metal being ethereal before, but that dress has convinced me. And embroidery has been redefined far beyond the limitations of those blue stamped patterns on cloth. I can only hope this work is recognized as art, and not viewed as jumped up craft.
If you had asked me, “What do you think is the state of embroidery today?” I’m sure I would have thought, “I bet some people are re-innovating it,” but seeing that piece in person really woke me up to new possibilities. The first response would be a nice objective mental response; the second is a bolt-from-the-blue inner artist’s realization. My internal “Wow!”
There was no overall exhibit statement as to the art or craft view of the works, but it seemed to me that they were presented as art.
Did you hear me say……….YIPES!! I REALLY liked the embroidered dress. No sure I want to hear about destruction of trees just now…..they are logging (destroying) where I walk just now and i am HEARTSICK! even the dog went…W H A T ??????
I live on a tree farm, and even though I know the trees come back, it is always sad to see them go, whether they are logged or just die on their own. We have them cut selectively, but it still looks thin for a year or two. Neighbors clear cut six acres next to me and bulldozed the top soil – it has been a year and a half and nothing has come back, not even dog fennel or honey locust. I wish I could buy that property just to try to restore it.
Amazing Art with Great Craftsmanship. Be Blessed, Mtetar
This is so wonderful. I love the Martha Shade embroidery. And the Tiffany Gordon dress. I wonder what it feels like to wear.
In the exhibit brochure, there was a picture of Tiffany Gordon wearing the dress! The picture is only an inch high though and the brochure is just photocopied in black and white, so not really worth reproducing. But it’s interesting that she did make it to be wearable, not just a gallery piece.
Amazing selection of work – thank you for sharing this!