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Jan/Feb 2006

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News & Notes from the Fiber World
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News & Notes from the Fiber World

Here is the latest news from the fiber world.


Check out our January/February 2006 issue for more news, including:

  • Highlights from SOFA Chicago and a report on the annual Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England.

  • Information about current exhibits: Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection in Tempe, Arizona, including an interview with Sara Lieberman; and Raiment For Receptions: A Japanese Bride’s Last Furisode in Kent, Ohio.

  • A preview of The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA)’s upcoming exhibit Twist & Shout: The New Needle Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida.

  • News briefs about Ruth Harris’s traveling biblical quilt show, Janet Echelman’s massive outdoor commission, She Changed, in Porto, Portugal, Lin Holland and Vero nika Moos-Brochhagen’s sewn coat stories, and catalogs available from recent exhibitions.




Loom: From Text to Textile, the first project in a proposed series involving large-scale human participation and computer-based weaving, was created between September 29 and October 2, 2005. Through a website (, the artist, Alinah Azadeh, invited participants to submit information about two loved ones, one living and one deceased. The 1,638 names, years, and places were gathered into a database and woven in coded patterns, twenty hours a day for five days. Video footage of the process was streamed online and to the Brighton Fringe Basement in Brighton, United Kingdom. The basement gallery featured a larger installation that used text, ribbon, sound, and light to create a space for remembrance and celebration. The textile is about twenty inches wide and twenty-two yards long and is made of cream silk noil, golden metallic yarn, and eighteen organza ribbons that float over the surface in lengths that correspond to the supplied information.


In what has become the biggest effort of its twenty-year history, the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) is actively raising funds for those affected by Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. In addition to the fund-raising, CERF’s website has become a gathering place for artists seeking information and assistance. CERF’s plan is to provide assistance in two waves, each totaling three hundred thousand dollars of support. The first wave is immediate aid for basic living expenses; the second is aid to rebuild businesses. Awarded grants and loans help craftspeople get back on their feet and to their livelihoods so that they can contribute to rebuilding their communities.

As part of October’s SOFA Chicago expo, CERF organized several events. The first was a benefit cruise on Lake Michigan cosponsored by The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, the Art Jewelry Forum, the Collectors of Wood Art, Leslie Ferrin and the Ferrin Gallery, the Friends of Fiber Art International, the James Renwick Alliance, the Founders’ Circle of the Mint Museum of Craft+ Design, and the Racine Art Museum. Joining the event were two special guest artists who had been evacuated from their homes and studios in New Orleans—glass artist Andrew Brott and metalsmith Thomas Mann. CERF also held a raffle for a collection of miniatures with the theme “every body.” Twenty-four pieces by twenty-six artists were included in the collection. Artists and galleries joined together in a benefit exhibition for CERF, including Michael Bauermeister (del Mano Gallery), Laura Donefer (R. Duane Reed Gallery), Karen Karnes (Ferrin Gallery), Thomas Mann (Ferrin Gallery), and Richard Royal (Marx-Saunders Gallery, Ltd.). A portion of the sales of these pieces were contributed to CERF. Finally, CERF sponsored a lecture, Artists & Emergencies: The Journey Back, in conjunction with the exhibit. The artists, along with moderator Bruce Pepich, Executive Director of the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin, discussed the career-threatening emergencies each had experienced and how the experiences affected their work.

For more information about how you can help with CERF’s hurricane-relief efforts, contact CERF at (802) 229-2306;;


Internationally renowned Colombian fiber artist Olga de Amaral (shown below) received a Lifetime Achievement Award in November as part of the Museum of Arts & Design’s 12th Annual Visionaries! awards.

Collector and dealer Donna Schneier received a Visionary! Award as well for her long career of building private collections; encouraging museums to acquire work in the areas of craft, art, and design; and bringing a new vitality, awareness, and vision to the field. Reina Mia Brill received the Bronze Award and Emerging Artist Award at the annual Peters Valley Craft Fair held in September in Augusta, New Jersey. Handweaver Jeanne Heifetz was awarded Best in Show (accessories) at the Fine Furnishings Providence Show in October. Embroidery artist Riitta-Liisa Haavisto, whose work appeared on the cover of our September/October 2001 issue,has been nominated as an honorary member of the Association of Finnish Designers.


Established in 1999, the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art is designed to recognize and reward Native American contemporary fine artists. Out of over one hundred applicants, six recipients were chosen as 2006 Fellows, including fiber artist Marie Watt. Watt’s work speaks of a modern time and place yet honors tradition. Her work Braid (shown below), part of the permanent collection at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, was a community project in which friends and family worked together with Watt to create a quilt from reclaimed wool blankets and silk.


Fiberarts magazine was a sponsor of 2005’s annual Artwear in Motion at the Textile Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The show was juried by Kenneth D. King and featured a few of his own designs, including Iridescent Soufflé Jacket and Skirt (shown below). Images from the October show, titled “Retroflexion,” are on the center’s website:


A quilt has been designed to celebrate the centennial of the city of Belleville, Michigan. Coordinated by Marilyn Locke and Barbara Rogalle Miller—both are founding members of the Belleville Area Council of the Arts—the quilt began to take shape. Marilyn coordinated the quilt as a collaborative community artwork. Barbara handled the logistics. The Belleville Centennial Quilt carries the theme of the Belleville bridges, with the landmark bridges symbolizing the passage of time in the town. In the end, twenty artists worked to make the quilt a reality; many of them are shown BELOW.

Quilt artists Yvonne Porcella and Karen Musgrave have collaborated on the quilt The Voice of You and Me 2006 (shown below) to support The Alliance for American Quilts. The quilting on the 58" x 60" quilt was donated by professional long-arm quilter Karen Watts of Houston, Texas. This quilt is third in the series of quilts titled The Voice of You and Me. Raffle tickets are $5.00. The drawing for the quilt will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 20, 2006. In addition, a free pattern for the block featured in The Voice of You and Me 2006 is available to members of the Alliance through its members-only web pages. For information: The Alliance for American Quilts, (502) 897-3819;;


The Craft Students League, a program of the YWCA of the City of New York, has ended after seventy-three years. Writes Frances Perrone, director of the program: “Since the YWCA made the decision to focus solely on human service programs that are more closely related to the YW’s mission, a team was put together to determine whether or not CSL could start a stand-alone business or find a partner to support it. In short, through this planning process, we found that we simply could not afford a suitable space to create a stand-alone prosperous business. Additionally, although there were many organizations interested in a partnership and/or taking us on as a program, they did not have adequate space to accommodate our needs.”

Equipment from the program was donated and sold to other schools, and the program archives were contributed to the American Craft Council Library. Faculty members from the program will be teaching through other NYC venues, including the Education Alliance, the Jewish Community Center, and the 92nd Street Y Art Center. “CSL shall always be remembered as a place that fostered creativity, inspired ideas, friendships, and camaraderie while providing quality fine art and craft education,” Perrone writes. “Because of this, CSL’s legacy will not only survive in our hearts and minds, but also through our art.”


Due to popular demand, the Allentown Art Museum is continuing the textile club it started last season. The Allentown Art Museum’s Textile Club meets bi-monthly for discussions and to view textiles from the museum’s collection. Each meeting focuses on a different theme, medium, technique, historical period, or motif. Jacqueline M. Atkins, the Museum’s Kate Fowler Merle-Smith Curator of Textiles, and special guest presenters lead the discussions. Meetings are held from 2:00-4:00 P.M. on February 11, April 1, and June 10, 2006. Club dues are $40 per year for members and $50 per year for non-members. The club is limited to 40 participants. To register, please call (610) 432-4333, ext. 10.



On November 19th, The Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, opened a new costume gallery that features its collection of fashions from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection contains nearly 7,500 items for men, women, and children and was started in 1972. The museum is planning future fashion exhibits, including a special showing of work by twentieth-century designers planned for spring 2007.  

Egyptian Landscapes: 50 Years of Tapestry Weaving at the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre, Cairo, will be on display at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, London, January 19–March 17. In 1941, Ramses Wissa Wassef, who was trained as an architect, was commissioned to design a primary school, and he began to teach some students weaving after school. When they mastered the basic techniques, he stepped back and let them decide what images to produce. He insisted on only three rules: “no sketches, no external aesthetic influences, and no critical interference from adults.”

Fawzy Moussa, Cypress and Olive Trees, 1974. 110" x 100".

Encouraged by the success of this experiment, Wissa Wassef and his wife built a permanent workshop in the village of Harrania in 1952. They invited children to come once a week to learn to weave under the same guiding principles and following the same three rules. Thus the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre was born. It has greatly expanded since 1952, but its fundamental spirit and guiding philosophy remain the same. In 1989, a large museum was completed on the grounds; its permanent collection of tapestries shows the development of individual weavers since the first days of the center. Many major exhibitions in the United States and Europe have helped bring these works of art to international attention and helped the art center to be self-sustaining. The exhibition at the Brunei Gallery in London will include retrospectives of two of the weavers, charting their work from childhood. Two other weavers will be working at their looms in the gallery during the exhibition. For more information, 36 Camden Square, London NW1 9XA. 0 (20) 7 267 1034;;


Artist Betye Saar turns eighty in July, and it’s fitting that a series of shows are paying tribute to her this year. During her long and productive career, she has become renowned for her mixed-media collages and assemblages, many of which have incorporated textiles and stitching. Her two daughters, Lezley Saar and Alison Saar, also are artists, and their work is included in one of the shows.

  • Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment opened at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor in October and will be on display through January 8 before traveling to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida (March 18–June 11), and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia (September 8–December 3). This exhibition, accompanied by a catalog, focuses on the use of photography in Saar’s work.
  • Betye Saar: Migrations, a show of new work, will be presented by her dealer, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York, September 8–November 4.
  • Family Legacies: The Art of Betye, Lezley and Alison Saar will open at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on December 18, 2005, and continue through March 26 before traveling to the Pasadena Museum of California Art (April 30–September 24), the San Jose Museum of Art in California (October 21–January 7, 2007), and then the Palmer Museum of Art in State College, Pennsylvania (early 2007).

Betye Saar,
A Loss of Innocence, 1998; chair and dress; 50" x 12" x 12". Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York.


Many are familiar with the peeing-baby fountain that is Manneken-Pis, the beloved mascot of Brussels, Belgium, but may not know of his elaborate collection of costumes that he has amassed since he was first dressed in 1698. The elaborate outfits create an interesting collection of historic costuming, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. A new dressing room for his 757 costumes opened last October at the Brussels City Museum. Visitors to the museum can also find answers to questions about this famous mischief maker. Information is divided into four sections: history, symbolism, folklore, and the fountain itself (explanatory texts are available in French, Dutch, and English). Through creative use of space, more than ninety of his costumes can now be on view at one time in an atmosphere that has the appearance of the little guy’s dressing room. A multimedia terminal offers visitors the chance to see the entire wardrobe. For information: Museum of the City of Brussels Maison du Roi, Grand-Place, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium.


Sha Sha Higby (featured in our September/October 2001 issue), a costume maker and performance artist whose 2005 piece Black Stick in a Hot Sea is shown here, has opened her home as a place for open studios, for students to stay during workshops, and for artists to rent as a vacation spot. Located in Bolinas, California, Higby’s “Just a Minute” art cottage is one block from the Bolinas Beach and one block from quaint Bolinas Village. For more information, visit


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