Fiberart International '01
|Angie Harbin, Citrona, 2001; nylon twine,
epoxy resin, oil pigment, encaustic wax; knotted and treated
with epoxy resin, applied color; 10 by 18 by 16 inches.
A stimulating and engaging "Fiberart International 2001,"
held in Pittsburgh September 7 through October 28, comprised
81 works by 77 artists, chosen from 1,900 submissions. While
two-thirds of the exhibitors reside in the United States,
some are emigres, and they, along with artists from Asia,
Europe, and the Middle East, gave the exhibition a global
flair. This 17th biennial exhibition, sponsored by the Fiberarts
Guild of Pittsburgh, was divided between two distinguished
venues, the Society for Contemporary Craft and the Pittsburgh
Center for the Arts.
The jurors' goal was to open a dialogue between
the audience and works that were "well executed" and stirred
an "emotional or intellectual response." Jurors were Ann Batchelder,
a writer, curator, and past editor of this magazine; artist
John Garrett, who uses found materials in his basket and wall-hung
forms; and Kenneth Trapp, curator of the Smithsonian's Renwick
Gallery. Both established and emerging artists were selected.
|Nora Auston, Bivouac, 2000; muslin, turmeric,
batting; 47 bird forms, hand dyed, assembled; 36 by 90
by 24 inches. Photo: Lance King.
If there was a theme that ran through the varied pieces,
it was an un-self-conscious freedom of expression, whether
in choice of material, issue, or aesthetic. Blendings of craft
traditions and fine art concerns were the norm, as in June
O'Neil's vibrantly colored, abstract, tufty Patchwork
or Judy McDermott's spare orange on Red Square, in
which Amish quilts met painter Ad Reinhardt.
Standing out were novel works like Cynthia Minden's
Witness, a crowd of 27 small reed figures; the ghostly
nylon tulle tea setting of Jenny Lawrence's poignant Remembering
Community II: Living Alone; Jacy Diggins' fungal-looking
wax paper Indigo Bark Group; and Jerry Bleem's graceful
stapled configuration Ferment.
Two installations effectively combined lightness with a deeper
message: Nora Auston's Bivouac, 47 floppy, turmeric-colored
bird forms piled upon one another in a broad arc, and Kaarina
Kellomaki's Invisible Gossamer, a webby expanse dotted
with the debris of affluent societies.
|Cynthia Minden, Witness, 2001; reed, paper,
paints, dyes, stains, beeswax; twining, three-rod waling,
collage; 27 figures, each approx. 24 by 4 by 4 inches.
Photo: Boomer Jerritt.
Highlights included elegant wall pieces by Akiko
Kotani, whose ethereal Pollen in Winter #1 drifted
freely among layers of white silk organza, and Hye Shin, whose
woven silvery grid of Harmony was accented with circles
of brown and black horsehair. Mary Giehl's disturbing Dressing-Up
is in part a bronze casting on casters about being role cast
and cast aside. Suhandan Ozay's clever cascade of forms based
on traditional Anatolian shoes re-engages objects of traditional
|Jenny Lawrence, Remembering Community II: Living
Alone (detail), 1999; nylon tulle on wood tray; fabric
manipulated using thermoplastics; 6 by 18 by 12 inches.
Janis Jefferies, who also spoke at a forum held in conjunction
with the exhibition, addressed memory in Poznan Factory
1, a haunting digital-on-cloth work that revives the remnants
of an abandoned laundry room in a new fiber format. Other
speakers were Ann Schumacher, whose enigmatic tapestry Vessels
of Stillness suggests contemplative depths, and Julia
Morrisroe, whose Blue Boy, the famed Gainsborough figure
embroidered in pink as well as in blue on a diaper, challenges
Tapestry continued to be well represented in this
International, including Fuyuko Matsubara's sensuously colored
dream scape In the Earth XI and Sarah Swett's delightful
overhead view of Jane's Picnic III: Toast Marshmallows.
Appliqué went Op in Barbara Watler's graphic Fingerprint
Batchelder commended the guild for encouraging artists, and
Garrett stressed that such alternative venues are crucial to
artistic growth. Also significant is the educative value of
this quality exhibition, complemented by the accompanying forum,
related regional exhibitions, and a well-conceived, color, illustrated
|Mary Giehl, Dressing-Up, 2000; bronze, muslin,
wax, wheels, earth; sewn and cast; 15 by 13 by 10 inches.
Mary Thomas is the art critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
and lives in New Stanton, Pennsylvania.
June O'Neil, Patchwork, 2001; cotton; machine appliqué;
43 by 43 inches.
Akiko Kotani,Pollen in Winter #1, 2001;
silk thread, three layers of silk organza; hand stitched;
44 by 40 by 4 inches. Photo: Alex Jones.
Hye Shin, Harmony, 1999; linen, paper, horsehair,
paint; weaving; 84 by 60 inches. Photo: Steve Gyurina.
Suhandan Ozay, CARIKLAR-Anatolien Fiber
Shoes, 2000; jute, cotton, sisal, handmade paper, Japanese
paper, palm leaf, leather; fiber sculpture. Photo: Diafo.
Ann Schumacher, Vessels of Stillness, 2001; wool,
linen, silk, rayon; tapestry; 35 by 57 inches. Photo: Mary
Julia Morrisroe, Blue Boy, 2000; embroidery
on diaper; 14 by 11 inches.
Fuyuko Matsubara, In the Earth XI, 2000; hand-plied
yarn, linen, cotton, silk, rayon; weaving; 33 by 43 inches.
Barbara Watler, Fingerprint Series: #6,
1999; cotton, Thermore batting, unbleached muslin, whole-cloth
direct machine appliqué; 35.5 by 35.5 inches. Photo: Gerhard