Fiber Art—It’s not just about you and me by Terry Grant

It occurred to me recently that most of the Ragged Cloth readers are also members of the QuiltArt list and we have been hanging around together for a long time. We know each other’s work, we know the artists we all talk about and read about in the magazines we all tend to read. We go to the same shows and we read the same books and take the same workshops from the same teachers. Pretty insular, don’t you think? I went searching the web for fiber artists with whom I was not familiar and found some pretty interesting and inspiring stuff. Because I wasn’t familiar doesn’t mean you don’t know about them, or, irony of ironies, perhaps they are lurking on that same list we all read, but just haven’t spoken up.

I contacted each to let them know I was writing this post and ask permission to use some of their images here. I hope you will follow the links to their web sites. I think you will have a lot of fun looking at some work that you may not have seen before.

Kathy Weaverhttp://www.kweaverarts.com/index.html

img0070.jpg Kathy Weaver’s quilts are filled with an imagined world of robots. She says, “My work addresses aspects of the intersection between technology and art”. Her background in painting is evident.

img0085.jpg Be sure to look at all the galleries. I found the “embroideries” gallery particularly interesting.

Emily Stewarthttp://www.emilymiah.com/index.html

macalesteri.jpg

Emily Stewart creates what she calls “memory maps.” She says, “Like scraps of memories, I collage pieces of fabric together to create a representation of home.” Her web site includes a section of exhibition images, showing how her work has been hung. I was especially intrigued by how groups of the memory map pieces appear to have been suspended from the ceiling of the gallery in a circular configuration.

blueprintsb.jpg

Charlotte Ziebarthhttp://www.charlotteziebarth.com/index.html

bird-thoughts-2.jpg

Charlotte Ziebarth uses photography as the basis of her work. She says, “My camera is the starting point in working to portray some of the pleasures and mysteries of our everyday life.” When she responded to my request to use images, she mentioned that some of her work is on display here in Oregon, where I live. She has work currently at the Oregon Trail Interpretive center in Baker City and also in Grant’s Pass. June will be interested in reading that she was an artist in residence at Rocky Mountain National Park. Her work will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Quilting Arts.

blue-hills-1.jpg

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So, did I find any common themes among these artists from outside our art quilt community? I found their work perhaps less technique-driven than much of what I see on a daily basis. I found all three have a very strong and personal point of view, expressed in a prolific and cohesive body of work. Most strikingly, I found serious, thoughtful content and intent in the work. All seem to have something to say that goes beyond mere infatuation with materials and techniques.

Is there anything to be learned from these artists? What do you think?

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5 Responses to “Fiber Art—It’s not just about you and me by Terry Grant”


  1. 1 Susie Monday July 23, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I think one issue that I see in the world of art quilts is a rush to the finish — the product, with its demands of technical facility and fine polish (as exemplified in more traditional quilting)becomes more important to many of the makers than the process.
    I am thinking a lot about this right now because I have been teaching little (I mean really little — 5 year olds) kids about the sensory alphabet (see my blog for more info on this) and it’s interesting to see that some of them, ALREADY, are so concerned with making the product right, that they do the same thing as these grownup artists. Miss the real meat, the potency of image from taking time to explore a concept, idea, impression, story or image — it doesn’t matter what the impulse is as much as it matters that it has personal meaning and time spent up front, at least that’s what I think. I often have to remind myself of the steps of giving form to ideas — collecting, editing and selecting, producing, reflecting — so that my own work keeps being fresh and energetic.

  2. 2 Kristin July 22, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    No snark taken June. I have to assume that what’s holding me, and anyone else back, varies for each one of us. Personally, I’m trying to be more mindful of what I make — looking for what my motivations are and trying to take it further, and to look for universal themes. Of course, this takes time and introspection, and I often allow myself to get distracted by so many other things for so many other reasons — but that’s just me. As Olga pointed out, infatuation with materials and techniques probably also contributes a lot to the holding back of more serious thought.

  3. 3 Olga July 20, 2007 at 2:29 am

    And it’s not just about quilt art – fibre art is a much wider field. One blog which introduces fibre artists is feltbug: http://feltbug.blogspot.com/, and I am constantly on the lookout for developments in the work of artists who use fibre like Annette Messager and Ghada Amer, and Louise Bourgeois who can really teach us about not being infatuated with materials or techniques!

  4. 4 June July 19, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Kristin,

    To ask an indecent question — what’s holding you back?

    That sounds snarky which isn’t what I mean. What I’m actually asking is what holds us all back from serious thought content and intent.

  5. 5 Kristin July 18, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Terry, I think you put your finger on it: serious, thoughtful content and intent, with the technical expertise to back it up. I’d like to see more of these elements in art quilts — including my own!


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