Thread Heads: Fiber Art Abounds

      For those of us engaged in the fiber arts, it's a joy to hear about exhibits burgeoning around the world. In Northern California, for example, there is a healthy population of fiber artists, with shows opening regularly at art centers, galleries, museums, or other institutions. Some are entirely dedicated to fiber, such as the traveling Korean exhibition that I co-curated (see post 18 June 2017), "Renegade Fiber" at Marin MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Novato, CA (May 27 - July 2), and "Thread Heads" at Berkeley Art Center in Berkeley, CA (October 21 - November 26). Also, it's no longer unusual to include fiber entries in overall art shows. I feel fortunate to have my work juried into some of them. The more exposure fiber art gets, the less ghettoized it is.

So here are some images from two exhibits I just mentioned. They reflect how wide-ranging fiber art has become, incorporating natural and synthetic fibers as well as traditional and innovative methods, objects, and products, not to mention dimensionality. If you're not already familiar with the latest in fiber art, you'll see that imaginations are soaring and broadening the definition of art.

The first few images are from "Renegade Fiber."

"Oops," by Tina Maier. Textiles, found objects, and wire. Marin MOCA.

"Oops," by Tina Maier. Textiles, found objects, and wire. Marin MOCA.

"Big Smile," by Carolyn Burwell. Hand woven, hand dyed monofilament. Marin MOCA.

"Big Smile," by Carolyn Burwell. Hand woven, hand dyed monofilament. Marin MOCA.

"Monochromania #16-1362TCX-16-1463TPG," by Sooo-Z Mastropietro. Cotton lycra fabric tubes on painted canvas, glue, thread. Marin MOCA.

"Monochromania #16-1362TCX-16-1463TPG," by Sooo-Z Mastropietro. Cotton lycra fabric tubes on painted canvas, glue, thread. Marin MOCA.

"Echeveria," by Katie Gutierrez. Linen and encaustic. Marin MOCA.

"Echeveria," by Katie Gutierrez. Linen and encaustic. Marin MOCA.

"Tube," by Leah Cabinum. Up-cycled inner tube rubber, wire, wood, paint, hardware, and tire parts. Marin MOCA.

"Tube," by Leah Cabinum. Up-cycled inner tube rubber, wire, wood, paint, hardware, and tire parts. Marin MOCA.

"Esme with Love & Squalor," by Gina Telcocci. Reed, plaster, wood. Marin MOCA.

"Esme with Love & Squalor," by Gina Telcocci. Reed, plaster, wood. Marin MOCA.

Detail of "Esme with Love & Squalor," by Gina Telcocci. Marin MOCA.

Detail of "Esme with Love & Squalor," by Gina Telcocci. Marin MOCA.

"Yellow Polyhedron," by Marty Jonas. Thread. Marin MOCA.

"Yellow Polyhedron," by Marty Jonas. Thread. Marin MOCA.

Juried by fiber artists Marion Coleman, Karen Hampton, and Tali Weinberg, "Thread Heads" examines the current state of Bay Area fiber arts and poses the question: “What social and political circumstances are influencing the craft movement of the new millennium?” The works of a dozen artists grace the walls, floor, and ceiling of the gallery. However, without explanations, I have to admit that, in some instances, I wasn't able to discern what social and political influences are exerted on the artwork. Nevertheless, it's interesting to take a close look and try to figure that out.

"Fly" (2017) + "Natural" (2015), by LaQuita Tummings. Textiles, beads, 3-D butterflies. Berkeley Art Center.

"Fly" (2017) + "Natural" (2015), by LaQuita Tummings. Textiles, beads, 3-D butterflies.
Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Fly," by LaQuita Tummings. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Fly," by LaQuita Tummings. Berkeley Art Center.

When standing close to Lia Cook's weavings, you notice only an abstract pattern. A face doesn't appear unless you move back far enough.

Detail of "Positivity Su Data" (2014), by Lia Cook. Woven cotton and rayon. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Positivity Su Data" (2014), by Lia Cook. Woven cotton and rayon.
Berkeley Art Center.

"Positivity Su Data" (2014), by Lia Cook. Woven cotton and rayon. Berkeley Art Center.

"Positivity Su Data" (2014), by Lia Cook. Woven cotton and rayon.
Berkeley Art Center.

If you can't get to the show, here are a few more images to consider. They represent an extensive variety of techniques and materials appearing in the realm of fiber art.

In the center, "Phase" (2016), by Karrie Hovey, needle felted wool. On left wall, "Memoir 8 - La Ciudad" (2017), by Laura Raboff, wool and thread. Followed by "Supplemental 322x" (2017) and "Purl 322x" (2017), handwoven jacquard, hand embroidery, and, on a pedestal, "Microbiology Lab Series II" (2016), hand embroidery, all by Ruth Tabancay. Followed by "Somewhere in Me There Lives Giselle" (2016) and "Why Am I not Where You Are" (2016), quilts of silk and cotton, by Alice Beasley. On free-standing wall, "Openwork 2" (2017), made of steel wire by Lily Homer. Berkeley Art Center.

In the center, "Phase" (2016), by Karrie Hovey, needle felted wool. On left wall, "Memoir 8 - La Ciudad" (2017), by Laura Raboff, wool and thread. Followed by "Supplemental 322x" (2017) and "Purl 322x" (2017), handwoven jacquard, hand embroidery, and, on a pedestal, "Microbiology Lab Series II" (2016), hand embroidery, all by Ruth Tabancay. Followed by "Somewhere in Me There Lives Giselle" (2016) and "Why Am I not Where You Are" (2016), quilts of silk and cotton, by Alice Beasley. On free-standing wall, "Openwork 2" (2017), made of steel wire by Lily Homer. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Openwork 1" (2017), by Lily Homer. Steel wire. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Openwork 1" (2017), by Lily Homer. Steel wire. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Why Am I Not Where You Are" (2016), by Alice Beasley. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Why Am I Not Where You Are" (2016), by Alice Beasley. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Microbiology Lab Series III" (2016), by Ruth Tabancay. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Microbiology Lab Series III" (2016), by Ruth Tabancay. Berkeley Art Center.

"Little Memoir Dresses" (2016), by Laura Raboff. Cotton, thread. Berkeley Art Center.

"Little Memoir Dresses" (2016), by Laura Raboff. Cotton, thread. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Little Memoir Dreses" (2016), by Laura Raboff. Cotton, thread. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "Little Memoir Dreses" (2016), by Laura Raboff. Cotton, thread. Berkeley Art Center.

"Us vs Them" (2017) + "Still Adjusting" (2017), by Alice Wiese. Embroidery thread on cotton fabric. Berkeley Art Center.


"Us vs Them" (2017) + "Still Adjusting" (2017), by Alice Wiese. Embroidery thread on cotton fabric. Berkeley Art Center.

"This Old (Demolished) House" (2017), by Renee Owen. Mixed media. Berkeley Art Center.

"This Old (Demolished) House" (2017), by Renee Owen. Mixed media. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail from "This Old (Demolished) House" (2017), by Renee Owen. Mixed media. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail from "This Old (Demolished) House" (2017), by Renee Owen. Mixed media. Berkeley Art Center.

"In Twine" (2017), by Karrie Hovey. Manufactured felt. Berkeley Art Center.

"In Twine" (2017), by Karrie Hovey. Manufactured felt. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "In Twine" (2017), by Karrie Hovey. Manufactured felt. Berkeley Art Center.

Detail of "In Twine" (2017), by Karrie Hovey. Manufactured felt. Berkeley Art Center.

Questions and Comments:
What do you notice about fiber art shows today compared to work you saw in the past?
If you're a fiber artist, what new materials or techniques do you employ that you didn't when you first started?
What is it about fiber art that appeals to you as a viewer and/or an artist?