Age, wisdom, the accumulation of experience and its imprint on the human body have attracted fiber artists Deidre Scherer and Jackie Abrams, both pioneers in their media for many years.
Collaborating for an exhibition called “Connections,” at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Vermont, on view from March 9 to June 16, 2019, they have created strongly textured vessels that beautifully and uniquely reflect the human image. The vessels on display, resulting from their collaboration, derive from reconfigured and printed images of Scherer’s original thread-on-fabric works which Abrams deconstructs and weaves into her vessel-shaped works.
Scherer, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, is widely exhibited, awarded and commissioned internationally. She pioneered a unique figurative approach to the medium of thread on fabric in which she applies thread to layered fabrics such as linens, silk, papers and printed cotton. By “cutting freely into these fields of color,” she draws directly with scissors, layering and modulating opaque and translucent cloth to create volume. Through extensive machine stitching, she connects and defines form. “Lines of thread are my brushstrokes, both blending and emphasizing contours,” she explained. More recently she started finger-weaving her images out of prints on paper.
Scherer’s paper constructions are based on digital prints of the fabric work reconfigured in Photoshop. After printing, Scherer rips or cuts two prints-on-paper to create warp and weft and then reintegrates them as woven forms. The work requires enormous patience, resulting in work that “expands [her] reflections on the opposites of tearing apart and piecing together, dividing and uniting, knowing and unknowing, and ultimately, changing self-perception. The visual shifts made by the interlocking surfaces embody a life force and movement through the woven image. The fragmentation and fusion of weaving reveals the human being in increments, which is how we get to know each other and ourselves.”
Abrams has been shaping baskets and vessels since 1975 as a result of apprenticing with Ben Higgins, an expert in ash basketry, who owned The Basket Shop in Chesterfield, Massachusetts. Having been forbidden to study art by her second-generation immigrant family, which insisted she be able to earn a living, she earned a master’s degree in Education at the University of Massachusetts. But she stopped teaching after meeting Higgins and made functional baskets for over a decade, until she got bored. She then began to weave with paper, pioneering paper baskets as Scherer had pioneered thread on layered fabric.