Text by Carol LeBaron, photos by Luanne Rimel
RETURN TO NEWS & NOTES
For the past twelve years, St. Louis has honored textiles biennially in a three-month celebration of fiber and textile art. In fall 2005, sixteen participating galleries and institutions hosted exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and tours. The high point of the series was a three-day weekend of lectures and tours, which took place September 16–18.
The exhibits included national juried exhibitions such as Fiber Focus 2005 (juried by Bhakti Ziek) and Quilt National '05 (traveling from the Dairy Barn in Ohio), as well as invitational exhibitions such as Realities and Illusions, held at the Craft Alliance and curated by Barbara Simon, and Textile Abstractions, curated by Laura Strand, head of the fibers program at Southern Illinois University. The Saint Louis Art Museum hosted Sleep in Beauty: Bed Coverings from Around the World, a rare opportunity to see eighteenth- and nineteenth-century historical textiles.
Bhakti Ziek gives a gallery talk about her selections for Fiber Focus at Art St. Louis. The jacquard-woven work behind her is by Pauline Verbeek-Cowart.
The panel discussion, held Sunday, September 18, was titled The Presence of the Past: The Influence of History on Contemporary Textile Artists. Textile artists Bhakti Ziek, Laura Strand, Jon Eric Riis, and Marcel Marois joined Saint Louis Art Museum textile conservator Zoe Perkins to discuss influences of traditional textiles on each artist's work. Each of the four described a very different way of viewing historical influence. Riis described direct visual influence, while Marcel Marois spoke of a concentration on the presence of the past in his work as separate from influence. Bhakti Ziek described the influence of historical practices, and Laura Strand spoke on the presence of the past with a focus on issues of education. She described the method used by educator Ed Rossbach at the University of California, Berkeley, in which students studied a particular historical textile in every imaginable way--thinking carefully about its structure and how it was made, its dyes and techniques, its position in its particular culture, how that cultural connotation may or may not have been reinterpreted in a contemporary setting, and lastly the textile's formal issues of color and design--and thought about all those things as a way of finding a place to lodge their own ideas in a historical context. The panel also addressed questions about history, education, and the position of the museum in the arena of textile study.
The exhibited work included hundreds of possible media and interpretations of fiber material and processes, ranging in scale from tiny to three stories tall, and in technique from laborious hand processes and ancient methods to industrial products. Yet with all of this variety in material and media, a common thread ran through: a connectedness, a devotion to fiber arts and recognition of the place that they hold in the contemporary art of today.
About the author
Carol LeBaron is an artist and curator who lives in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Her resist-dyed and jacquard-woven work will be featured in the Summer 2006 issue of Fiberarts.
Kate Anderson gives a gallery talk on the exhibit she curated, In the Narrative: Textiles Object/Word, at COCA. Behind her is a piece by Kiyomi Iwata.
At left is an embroidery by Marcia Docter; to the right, a layered silk work with stitched text by Luanne Rimel.
For more information
The 2007 Innovations in Textiles is currently being planned, and information will be posted on the website for sponsor organization Craft Alliance, www.craftalliance.org.
RETURN TO NEWS & NOTES