Disclaimer- I am doing this gonzo style which includes wine (no cocaine or handguns though).
I will clean it up and add links later, but in the spirt of documenting the here and now, I am going to write and post. Think later. And maybe like dancing on the bar in a short mini skirt, I will regret it. But for now, here it goes.
WOW-OH-WOW. If I had to sum it up that is what I would say. This exhibition is like being in a fish bowl filled with the best of the best fiber art in the world.
I kind of want to drop the word fiber and just say art, but I am not going to do it. I think it is time we just claim our form and get down on it. We are at THAT moment. You know, like when the Impressionists made sense. When the Abstractionists made sense. When people started to get it because the artists were so damn good that the audience had no choice but to feel what the artists were saying.
If you want embroidery to blow your mind, or patchwork to make you cry, or paper to make your heart sing then you should see this show.
We work in fiber or we work with other materials using traditional fiber practices. We stitch, weave, knot, knit, and crochet. With wire, with thread, with paper and with yarn. And did I mention that it is AMAZING—as in you will cry.
I have been to many shows that showcase fiber and craft, but I don’t think I have ever been to one where the level of work is so consistently brilliant. I get kind of get weepy every time I think this, because my work is in the mix.
I was nervous about this. I am but a lowly patchwork artist. I do the simplest of things. I cut things up, and I stitch them back together. I do what many women have done for generations without getting credit for their artistry.
The fact that I get to live in the time when women who work in this medium are actually recognized for the power of their craft is both humbling and exhilarating. I get to stand on those women’s backs. I get to be part of the generation that says OUTLOUD—Fiber is a legitimate medium with its own language.
There are INDIVIDUAL artists who have broken through the false dichotomies of craft/art, materials/meaning, man/woman, but there has never been a GENERATION of artists that have done so.
That is my first thought.
My second thought is just as important. I am a quilt maker. I am grounded in the craft of stitch. All of my work is made in honor of the women who stitched before me but were not necessarily recognized as artists.
Unlike those women, I have had the opportunity to be recognized for my craft. I have even had my craft called art. As it should be.
I have watched artists appropriate craft without honoring it. I find this disturbing. Craft is about time and skill and practice and intention. It is a process based art form. And for an artist to make a quilt in an hour and smear her menstrual blood on it is an appropriation of craft. It is a taking without honoring. I have met fiber artists who do not know how to sew-weave-knit-dye. Who think sloppy work is conceptual and therefore acceptable. Who think the idea is more important than then the form. And I say, learn the skills or choose another medium.
Because if you are honoring the craft as opposed to appropriating the craft you will learn it.
And almost every piece in this show does that. They are art. They are craft. They honor our history. They tell a story based on our lineage. They are exquisitely made with the touch of the human hand.
And that I leads me to the third thing I want to say. One of the best things about fiber art is that you must always see it from far away AND up close.
One viewing is not enough. Good fiber art always leads the viewer to questioning/marveling at the methods of making. It is a celebration of that intersection between making and meaning. Fiber art engages the viewer in a way that only fiber can. It continues to persist as a medium because sometimes the best and maybe even the only way to say certain things is with fiber.
See the show.
Thanks, Maria. ALMOST as good as being there. Have fun and congratulations. Carole
Carole- It would be worth the trip. It is a fabulous show. Thank you!
Well spoken! Thanks for sharing the pictures.
Thank you Linda! Check back for links to all the great artists whose work I shared.
Thanks for your thoughts and photos….inspiring art for sure!
Sherry, you would have loved it! Great show!
Thanks for your post Maria! Your art is wonderful. The rhythm and color are beautiful! Worth showing! Congratulations!
Thank you Jantine!
Maria, this is wonderful. The exhibition, and your words about it. How very true. Wish I could be there too.
Thank you Alicia! I wish you all could have been there. It truly was amazing and Europe was very well represented.
It’s great to be able to see the photos! I think SAQA’s Sue Hotchkis from the Isle of Guernsey had some work there, but don’t know which other Europeans were represented.
Yes! She and her work were there. I did not get to meet her, but she had quite the crowd during her artist talk. I will hopefully share more work in the next few days, but first a 17 hour trek home…
Loved seeing all the amazing work and particularly loved your comment on skill in craft.
learn the skills or choose another medium. AMEN!!
Thank you Charlene. I probably shouldn’t have put it that harshly, but really the medium is partially about skills. If you don’t strive to acquire the skills, you aren’t honoring the craft.
Thank you Thank you Thank you, your words touched me deeply.
Bev- Thank you for saying that.
Bravo! Great review!
Thank you Sue!
excellent point about appropriating craft without honoring it. I’ve been bothered by this for years — all these guys who come up with a nifty idea and make their mothers sew it up. yuk.
Kathy- I have been bothered by this for years, but it took me a very long time to figure out what exactly was the problem. And then I realized what it was craft is by definition an act of striving for perfection with the human hand. I think the MFA programs where so many of these artists come from are finally getting with it at least that is what I saw in the show. Thank you for commenting. It is always good to hear from you.
Thank you Wen!
I am lazing around in bed here in PIttsburgh the morning after our shared time at FI 2016, checking out websites and blogs of some of my favorite new friends. I love your blog post and plan to post a link to it on the Facebook page of my CT Surface Design group when I get home (with your permission of course). I want them all to “experience” this wonderful show and your words express it all so beautifully. Safe travels home……
Of course share it! Meeting you was one of the hi-lights of the trip! Safe travels to you too.
This is an excellent review and “brain dump” of the exhibition, with insightful impressions and heartfelt responses to what you saw. Congratulations on your well-deserved inclusion in this gathering of works of ART.
Oh, how I wish I could see the show. Thanks for what you went through to get there and share it with us. Loved the photos and congratulations on your piece.
Well said! Thanks for sharing all the photos and your perspective. Congrats on the acceptance of your work. I’d love to see it all in person.
Thank Elaine! If you are any where near Pittsburgh it is worth the trip!
This is a really powerful review. Thank you for your words and images. They make me think about the way I perceive and approach art.
Thank you Carrie. I am still thinking, should I have done it? But really, I know that I should actually being doing more. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do more thinking about craft critically. Good to hear from you!
Thanks much for sharing Maria. What a wonderful experience. Will re-read when brain is more fully engaged.
Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it. It was a wonderful experience.
Amazing works. Your point about the skill of the craft is well stated. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Mary! I know you and I both respect the craft of this work.