|Diane Franklin, Vortex.|
|Work by Kate Barber, left, and Diane Franklin, center and right, beneath exhibit title.|
This year the annual exhibit of the Surface Design Association, Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapter, arrived at a local art nexus, the Arsenal Center for the Arts. On display from September 7 through November 3, 2016, Fiber in the Present Tense 2016 featured the work of 26 artists, who dyed, knitted, wove, stitched, and felted their creations. Some members of my quilt guild also belong to SDA, and I always enjoy their work.
|Carol Anne Grotrian, Incoming Tide, Jones River.|
Ms. Grotrian is a member of my guild. She hand-dyed the cotton fabric used in the landscape quilt above. Click on the images to enlarge and enjoy this interpretation of the New England coast.
|Incoming Tide, Jones River, detail.|
|Elin Noble, Excerpts from Fugue 1.|
Elin Noble also hand-dyes fabrics, including the small silk piece above. Silk takes dye beautifully, but wool tints well, too, and can be felted, as in the wearable vest-like garment below, made using a technique called Nuno felting.
|Eva Camacho, RUST.|
Other wearables included the necklace below, crafted in Joomchi, a traditional Korean hand-made mulberry paper technique. The display mannequin does not show the jewelry to best advantage, but I imagine this circlet would be stunning over a black silk shirt.
|Ania Gilmore, Joy at the Meeting.|
I have recently had to make many train trips from the Boston area to Penn Station, in New York, and have rediscovered knitting as a way to calm my nerves in the face of Amtrak stress. The knitter Adrienne Sloane, who teaches at the Arsenal Center, pushes the boundaries of knitting beyond functional, to create works that explore fiber's ability to contain, delimit, and define space.
|Adrienne Sloane, Untitled 12" x 12".|
Knitting's cousin, crochet, was employed to create the baskets below, one for each of the eighteen years that the son of the artist lived beneath the family roof. The location of this piece, next to the restrooms signs, was unfortunate, but nevertheless the unoccupied space of the vessels is a strong metaphor for the "empty nest."
|Michèle Fandel Bonner, Empty Nesting Baskets.|
One of my favorite techniques is pleating, whether using paper or fabric, perhaps because, in its basic action, folding is an easily accessible skill. In the detail below, artist Kate Barber folded woven pieces into discs, resulting in a fascinating corrugated texture.
|Kate Barber, Collect 2.|
|Collect 2, detail.|
Finally, two works which respond to social and political events. The abstract American flag form below, stitched from the actual labels of imported clothes, is a reminder of the loss of American textile manufacturing and of the globalization of the garment industry.
|Michèle Fandel Bonner, Outsourced.|
The last image portrays, in outline stitching, a young man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, with a field of crosses behind. Who is he? A young man of color whose life ended much too early.