Monday, March 26, 2012

Fiber in the Present Tense:

Contemporary Art Textiles by the Massachusetts-Rhode Island chapter of the Surface Design Association FiberInThePresentTense March 3- April 22, 2012 at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, in Watertown, Massachusetts.

FiberinPTI joined SDA recently because I had heard that the fall 2011 issue of their journal featured some tapestry articles.

It’s true, and it’s an excellent journal.

MalikSaberah Malik, Boundaries Unbound, shibori dyed polyester on steel base. (above)

I was too late to enter this exhibit, but I drove there for the opening reception on Saturday. I got lost a few times, and seriously considered giving up and going home, but I finally found it, and I’m glad I did!

CrascoIt’s a really impressive show, although it’s spread out on 3 floors, mostly in hallways. I would rather have seen all the works in one gallery without the other distractions.CrascoDetail

The juror was Alice Zrebiec. She selected Swimming Against the Tide, (above and right) by Nancy Crasco, for the SDA Award of Excellence. This piece is gelatin print, embroidery and stitching on silk organza, 36” x 36.”


McCarthyDetailKaren McCarthy, Unexpected Turns (diptych)  (above, and detail at left)

I don’t know much about printing, so it was educational. I took a silk screening workshop about 40 years ago, but can’t remember much about it.

I was intrigued by the textile texture in this print, and the artist explained to me that she prints through lace.

The call for entries reads:

“Scope, materials and subject matter are open and submissions may include surface design, woven, 2D and 3D structures, quilts, stitching, or any other contemporary art textile technique.”

GrotrianChasmLakeI had always assumed that SDA was limited to surface design (printing, painting, embroidering and embellishing the surface of a textile), but the organization seems to be inclusive of all fiber arts.GrotrianDetail2 

Nevertheless, most of the works in the exhibit are surface design, with very little that is woven or otherwise constructed.

I took an instant liking to this landscape, Chasm Lake,  by Carol Ann Grotrian (above and right)HoustonUndertheMicroscope

I love the ambiguity in the combination of shibori and hand quilting, which you can see much better in the detail.

I was introduced to a young artist from RI, Hannah Houston, a recent art school graduate. It’s nice to know there are still some young folks studying fiber arts.

Her piece, Under the Microscope, (left and below) is really stunning.


HoustonEvery time someone walked past it, the lightweight silk fabric would billow out from the wall, which was beautiful, but made it a bit challenging to photograph!

It is digitally printed with foil embossing.

I didn’t notice the title (Under the Microscope) until I got home, but it makes perfect sense when you look closely. I’ve always thought that microscope images could make great textile designs, and now I know it!

NobleAnother favorite is this powerful piece by Elin Noble, Conversation (left).  The description reads:

“Itajime clamp-resist on hand-woven hemp cloth, hand pieced with horsehair.”

I had no idea what itajime was, so I looked on Elin’s website and found this description:

“Itajime shibori, or clamp-resist dyeing, is based on wooden boards held on either side of accordion folded cloth, then dyed.”NobleDetail

That sounds exciting! I wonder if there are surprises after the dyeing? I love the horse-hair stitching. 

Don’t forget, you can click on most of these photos and see a larger version.

Better yet, go see the exhibit!


Sherri Woodard Coffey said...

Love these pictures! I'm going to have to check out Elin Noble's website. I've often wondered about doing a tapestry piece with a technique like this.

I too joined SDA, partly because of the journal (it used to be on newstands occasionally), and partly because of they seem to have great conferences. The 2013 conference will be in San Antonio!

Jan said...

Funny that the SDA will be in San Antonio husband's big conference is also in San Antonio, and I said I would be willing to go with him cause it sounds like an interesting city. It would be nice if the 2 conferences were back to back....

K Spoering said...

Wish the exhibit would be up just a few weeks longer! Watertown is right next to where my kids live, and I'll be there for a short time in mid-May! Looks like an interesting exhibit.