DIVERSE METHODS FIND A COMMON THREAD
The traveling “Fiberart International 2013,” exhibition is organized to be a benchmark presentation in the field of contem- porary textile/fiber art. Jury member and multimedia artist Joyce J. Scott explained her selection criteria: “I am searching for an inner depth that differentiates art from its hobbyist and commercial cousins.”
The exhibition, currently on view at the American Textile History Museum, is arranged in two galleries in the lower and upper temporary gallery spaces.”
Here’s what you’ll see: a remarkable expansion of material exploration and workmanship and stylistic innovation repre- senting works from realism through the lexicon of abstraction.
There is painting with fibers, sculpture, diverse forms of printmaking and new media. Subject is communicated in story- telling mode via portraiture, narrative allegory, metaphor and symbolism. Methods employed include traditional fiber skills along with digital printing, burning, laminating and weaving with metal, paper and ready-made discarded materials.
Most striking is this: you don’t need actual fiber to create a work of art defined as “fiber art” — what you need is process and object association. Sandra Jane Heard’s 2011 “Vestiges of Emancipa- tion,” constructed from woven steel tape measures, is an example.
Exhibition juror Paulina Ortiz, a lighting designer, pointed out the exhibition’s innovative and undefined undercurrent by saying that there are forms represented that remain “unclassifiable within the categories used by most art theoreticians.”
Clever works include April Dauscha’s “Act of Contrition,” a silent film vignette showing an unknown young woman covering her mouth with a diaphanous, wet, handmade veil, then crossing herself and mumbling what could be prayers, perhaps in ritual. The performance is sensual, beautiful and unsettling.
Her oeuvre includes building large-scale textile environments, testing out the weaving process with human hair, and creating videos to expose the layered and delicate dichotomy of lace. Of the work, she writes, “It reveals and conceals, it is humble, yet gluttonous in its ornamental overindulgence.”
Ainsley Hillard’s “Flow” consists of two finely hand-woven, translucent panels, each depicting the same woman in the act of standing and bending toward the viewer. The ghostly images are photographic, heat-transferred, printed-upon-viscose weft and hand-dyed nylon monofilament warp. The piece is actually one long panel in which the middle section (the base of each panel) has an open, or non-woven, connected section where threads are allowed to rest directly on the floor.
J. Fatima Martins