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.