Contemporary Work in Fiber

University of Mary Washington Galleries

Ridderhof Martin Gallery
October 26 – December 7, 2012

Curatorial Statement

Since the mid-20th century, when fiber art began to challenge the distinctions between “high” and “low” art, or fine art and craft, fiber artists have been exploring an ever increasing range of techniques and materials. Simultaneously, artists in various other media have been incorporating fibrous materials and textile techniques into their work, leading to a more expansive view of what exactly constitutes the fiber medium. Moreover, the medium has evolved beyond materials and  process. Fiber artists today create work that responds to issues and interests, personal experience, and other individualized stimuli. Consequently, fiber art today is a vastly expanded universe over that which existed a mere half century ago.

The eight artists in this exhibition demonstrate the dramatic range in approach that characterizes contemporary work in fiber. Pat Campbell’s translucent structures of rice paper and reeds are inspired by the natural world, while the repetition and modular construction she employs have their roots in fundamental elements of textile design and construction. Jan Hopkins uses citrus rind, cantaloupe peel, lotus pods, magnolia leaves, and many other unconventional plant materials to create whimsical figurative vessels, occasionally combined with text, to create work that is thought provoking. The very textural work of Lewis Knauss is inspired by a sense of place and the solitary process of communing with a location in order to truly know it. Patricia Minks’ work deals with layering and combines quilting with digital imagery resulting in an almost painterly effect that retains the tactile quality of the fiber medium while exploring issues of time and place. Angela Molls’ screen-printed and quilted diaries explore the dynamics of private vs. public, tapping into the visual appeal of the written word, while suggesting notions of personal history and contemplation. Jóh Ricci creates sculptural forms primarily using the rhythmic yet tedious process of knotting thread, which is hand dyed to achieve color specifications unique to her work. Jean Williamson’s works of stiffened fabric grow from a fascination with construction fences and grid patterns, and are executed through a combination of monoprinting, hand stamping, painting, stitching, and occasional cutting. Pamela Zimmerman employs the demanding techniques of coiling and weaving to create her organic and sculptural basket forms that are woven of pine needles in combination with other materials.

These artists demonstrate how greatly varied work in fiber has become and how personal the work truly is. Each artist has developed a unique response to notions of time and place, community, personal experiences and preferences, and they employ very individualized methods and materials. Indeed, contemporary work in fiber is as varied as the artists who create it and it has become a major player in the pantheon of artistic media.
Anne Timpano
Director, UMW Galleries


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