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Summer 2006

Of Flora & Fauna: Renee Harris & Donna June Katz
Labyrinths in Fiber by Ted Hallman
Artist Books by Linda Grashoff
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 Summer 2006 issue for more news, including:

  • Snapshots from recent fiber events in Philadelphia
  • The American Textile History Museum’s sale of half its space
  • The Flintridge Foundation’s $25,000 awards to artists Adela Akers and Ferne Jacobs
  • Textile highlights at the COLLECT fair in London: the work of Gali Cnaani and Lotus Peles-Chen of Israel
  • News briefs about: fiber art on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, a new PBS documentary on art quilts, textile journals coming and going, and Barb Hunt’s knitted land mines.

To celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, the organization Friends of Fiber Art International will mount a large exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. Curated by Polly Ullrich, Material Difference: Soft Sculpture and Wall Works will feature highlights of public and private collections in seven Midwestern states. More than 150 pieces will be included. Timed to coincide with the November SOFA Chicago expo, the exhibition dates are November 4, 2006–January 7, 2007. A publication is planned. We’ll include more details in our November/December issue.

The Guild, which markets fine studio craft through its sourcebooks, website, and The Artful Home retail catalog, has received $7 million in private equity financing from San Francisco Equity Partners of California and Dolphin Equity Partners, LP, of New York. Scott Potter of the San Francisco group has been named chairman of the board of The Guild, and one member of each group has joined the board of directors.

“We are very pleased to receive both the financial and strategic resources of our new partners, which will enable The Artful Home brand to realize its full potential,” stated Toni Sikes, founder and CEO of The Guild, in her announcement. “This is an exciting vote of confidence for our company and business model.”
Stated Potter, “The Guild’s technology-enabled, virtual-inventory business model makes it entirely scalable and poised for continued strong growth in the $94-billion home furnishings market.” The Guild does not keep inventory on hand; when an order is taken, artists ship their work directly to the client. Products offered range from studio furniture to jewelry; a few fiber pieces, such as a hand-dyed silk quilt by Pamela Hill and a woven rug by Claudia Mills, were included in the Winter 2006 Collection.

According to Sikes’s announcement, the new financing will enable The Guild to increase its catalog circulation and online marketing efforts, add a second catalog to spotlight a wider range of art, and upgrade its website content to make it more of a resource for art consumers (with information about Guild artists and about collecting in general). Sikes started a new blog, The Artful Life, in March.

The Bernina Fashion Show annually brings together wearable art creations from the last year. This year’s show, Magnifique!, will feature forty-one designers whose creations include ornately sewn, quilted, and embellished garments. The designers are producing a wide spectrum of art, from practical street wear to elaborate fantasy.

The show, now in its sixth year, has grown in popularity and impact. Magnifique! will premiere to the quilt industry on October 29, as part of the Fall International Quilt Market, and to the public on November 2, as part of the Fall International Quilt Festival. Both shows are held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. The garments will travel to several other shows and venues.
Designers are welcome to submit a portfolio for consideration for future Bernina Fashion Shows. The shows are coordinated by Quilts, Inc., and sponsored by Bernina of America. Check out Bernina’s website for pictures from the 2005 show.

Textile artist/weaver Micheline Beauchemin is among seven winners of the 2006 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts. The winners each received a $15,000 prize along with an original artwork created by wood turner Michael Hosaluk. The awards recognize distinguished career achievement in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists. The Council website includes more about Beauchemin and her tapestries and large-scale textile installations.

Icelandic textile artist Hrafnhildur Sigurðardóttir was awarded The Nordic Award in Textiles 2005 from Stiftelsen Fokus. The award recognizes Sigurðardóttir’s experimentation with materials and techniques. She received 250,000 Swedish crowns (~US$30,000). The award was also accompanied by an exhibit at the Textilmuseet in Borås, Sweden, which was on display October 2005 through February of this year. The exhibit will travel to the Listasafn Árnesinga Art Museum in Hveragerdi, Iceland. It is on display May 20 through June 18.

Cynthia Schira, fiber artist and Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas, Lawrence, has received a Distinguished Educator Award from the James Renwick Alliance. The award was presented on April 23 during the Alliance’s Craft Weekend 2006. Ceramic artist Don Reitz and glass artist Lino Tagliapietra were also recognized. Presented biennially, the awards honor outstanding achievement in the field of craft education.

It took her ten years, but Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts finished cross-stitching a replica of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The artist is applying to the Guinness World Records, hoping her gigantic cross-stitch will make it in. The work measures eighty inches by forty inches, includes 628,296 stitches, and contains 1,809 different color combinations.

Lopianowski-Roberts also wrote and published a book detailing her creative process of the ten-year project. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling in Cross-Stitch teaches readers how to stitch individual scenes.

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
Artist Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, of Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, Canada, died in March at the age of seventy-nine. Her work ranged from brushed-wool abstracts, in recent years incorporating fiber optics, to major installation pieces, such as the main curtain at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; a metal curtain at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C.; and the ceiling banners of the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Her weavings have been exhibited internationally, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Museum of Modern Art in New York; international tapestry biennials in Lausanne, Switzerland; and Museums of Modern Art in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. Awards during her career included Officer of the Order of Canada; Member, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; and Certificate of Honor, Canadian Conference of the Arts.

Sadly, Mariette’s husband, painter/ceramist Claude Vermette, died two weeks after she did. Both artists are represented by browngrotta arts; in fact, dealer Tom Grotta credits Mariette as a huge influence on him. “She introduced me to the whole world of textiles,” he said. “Through her sharing of her knowledge and her teaching, she was an inspiration for a lot of people.” browngrotta arts has published catalogs of both artists’ work.

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. © Tom Grotta, 1981.
Courtesy of browngrotta arts.

Estelle Carlson
Estelle Carlson, best known for her hand-dyed, handwoven garments, died October 27, 2005, in San Diego, California. She was seventy. Carlson who has shown work in the United States, Canada, China, and India, had long-term affiliations with the Artists’ Studio at the Palos Verdes Art Center, Designing Weavers of Los Angeles, Southern California Handweavers Guild, and California Fibers. A traveler, she was inspired by both Asian and African textiles and combined fabrics she collected abroad with handwoven fabric to create her garments.

Annie Kilabuk Jr.
Annie Kilabuk Jr., a well-known artist in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, in northern Canada, passed away on December 17, 2005. Kilabuk was renowned in Nunavut for her printmaking creations, which depicted different aspects of Inuit life, lore, tradition, and imagination. Her prints told stories of the life and death cycle, survival, and great strength in the face of adversity.

In 2000, Kilabuk became one of the first women to participate as a printmaker on a regular basis in the annual Pangnirtung Community Print Collection. Since then, thirty-seven of her works have been included in the collection.

The 2006 collection, which will be on view June 23–July 10 at The Guild Shop in Toronto, Ontario, will be dedicated to Kilabuk.

Annie Kilabuk in the Pangnirtung Print Shop in March 2003.

Twist + Shout: The New Needle Arts, a traveling exhibition of work in embroidery, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, and cross-stitch organized by The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) and curated by Michele Tuegel, can be seen this summer in Indianapolis, Indiana, in conjunction with TNNA’s summer trade show. Organized to celebrate TNNA’s thirtieth anniversary and to initiate a two-year outreach program, the exhibition includes the work of fourteen artists: Stephen Beal, Linda Behar, Sara A. Christensen Blair, Reina Mia Brill, Robert Calvo, Pate Conaway, Tom Lundberg, Lindsay Obermeyer, Liz Whitney Quisgard, Patricia Roberts-Pizzuto, Donna Rosenthal, Hrafnhildur Sigurðardóttir, Elly Smith, and Nathan Vincent. The accompanying catalog was sponsored in part by Interweave, publisher of Fiberarts, and includes essays by Fiberarts editor Sunita Patterson and Paula Bradstreet Richter, curator of textiles and costumes at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts.

The show opened at Florida Craftsmen in St. Petersburg in January. Future dates are:

You can now view and purchase online small textile and fiber artworks from a March exhibition in Dallas. Miniature Art Textiles: Dallas, the Third International Invitational Exhibit, was curated by Joanie San Chirico. Forty-two pieces are displayed, and many are available for purchase. The prices range from $145 to $850.

SURTEX, a North American art and design trade show, has announced the winners of its 2006 International Student Design Competition. First place went to Amanda Ryan of Ontario, Canada, second place to Maitena Anda of West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and third place to Jilma Gabriela Fernandez of Puebla, Mexico.
Each year, the competition challenges students to create original designs with specific end uses in mind, such as floor coverings, furniture, or window treatments. It presents students with a focused professional challenge in commercial design.

The recipients will receive cash awards and their designs will be displayed during SURTEX in New York City May 21–23.

First Place, Amanda Ryan’s Cocktail Hour, an Art Deco-inspired interior of an ocean liner ballroom.

Second place, Maitena Anda’s Gaudi 1884 – 1926 – 2006, furnishings for a dinner in honor of the 80th anniversary of the death of the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.

Third place, Jilma Gabriela Fernández Fernández’s Harmony, a design scheme representing the contrast and blending of industry and nature.

Florida Craftsmen, a nonprofit organization for arts and crafts exhibitors based in St. Petersburg, hired Maria Emilia as the new executive director earlier this year. Emilia has a BFA and MFA and is an artist who works in multimedia. She most recently served as a program manager at the Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc., managing financial asset building and literacy programs for low-income families. Emilia replaces Michele Tuegel, who headed the organization for sixteen years.
The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hired Julie Farr as its new executive director. Farr came to the nonprofit exhibition and education venue from the International Society of Glass Beadmakers. She replaces Janet McCall, who left to pursue personal interests after more than ten years with SCC.

The Kentucky Arts Council found that the biggest barrier to artists and arts organizations trying to use technology in their businesses was the initial cost of a computer and finding affordable nonintimidating computer courses for the extreme beginner.

So the council developed the Artist Computer Training program. Evening classes on Internet fundamentals and computer bookkeeping will be offered in Lexington, Paducah, and Pikeville for $10. A PC Essentials class will also be offered for $50. Students who successfully complete PC Essentials will receive a free Internet-ready, reconditioned multimedia computer with free Internet access.

The council hopes to remove the fear of technology from artists who have never used computers in their businesses before, and that artists and arts organizations will come to a better understanding of the importance of technology and how to apply it to basic business practices.

Congratulations to Hand Papermaking for twenty years of advancing traditional and contemporary ideas in the art of hand papermaking. A special issue of the organization’s magazine is planned for Summer 2006. To mark the occasion, artist Lesley Dill has been commissioned to create a ten-foot art kite, which will be photographed for the issue and featured at a celebration in October in Baltimore.

Kites will soar in honor of Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday this year at the Main Line Art Center in Haverford, Pennsylvania. These kites aren’t the flimsy paper or plastic ones that children fly on windy days, but creative sculptures of metal, fabric, wood, stained glass, and other weather-resistant materials.

Kites: Art Takes Flight is the newest public art project of Main Line Art Center, which will be sponsoring more than thirty kite sculptures in public areas throughout Haverford, Lower Merion, and Radnor through October. The theme of kites provided innovative challenges to artists, while paying tribute to the electricity experiments of Benjamin Franklin in nearby Philadelphia. Artists were encouraged to think outside limitations of traditional kite forms, develop representational or abstract sculptures, and capture the attention and enthusiasm of the general public.

Featured artists include regionally renowned sculptors, Art Center faculty, and recent art-school graduates. Some created realistic-looking kite forms, while others found inspiration in electricity, international kite traditions, and even Beatles song lyrics.

The center has posted information about the artists and images of the scale models they submitted for consideration.

Maquette of Janet Fitch and Scott Thorne’s When Sparks Fly. The full-size sculpture is made out of wood, canvas, and cable. Photo: Jack Ramsdale.

Roxanne and Stuart Lasky opened The Quilter’s Alley in March in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Besides selling fabrics (including batiks from Bali) and notions, the shop offers classes and events (May 9: the Ugly Fabric Exchange). 424 R (Rear) Main St., Ridgefield, CT 06877. (203) 431-0023.

In the past five years, weavers from fourteen countries have woven forty-nine panels of cloth for The Thread Project: One World, One Cloth. The weft threads were donated by people all around the world; the threads often came from clothing and other personal artifacts. The forty-nine panels will be combined to create seven cloths representing the seven continents of the world (Hope Materializing, purple; Threaded Harmony, red; Ariadne’s Prayer, indigo; Weaving Reconciliation, green; Dawn Looming, orange; Lienzo Luminoso (Cloth of Light), yellow; and Sophia’s Mantle, blue). Symbolically the seven cloths will combine to create one World Cloth. Founder Terry Helwig, who started the project after September 11th, says, “What began with one strand of thread has evolved into tens of thousands of threads. Metaphorically, we are weaving a social fabric that celebrates diversity, encourages tolerance, and promotes compassionate community. Literally, we are weaving the most diverse cloth ever woven.” All seven cloths will be displayed together for the first time this fall and will travel to various venues around the country.

The tenth biennial symposium of the Textile Society of America (TSA) will be held October 11–14 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the Harbourfront Centre. Meant to serve both as a starting point for cross-discipline discussion and exploration of specific topics, the symposium, Textile Narratives and Conversations, will offer educational sessions, studios where artists will interact with the public, and a craft store,. Tours and events will be held throughout the city in conjunction with the event.

For information, contact Nataley Nagy, Executive Director, Textile Museum of Canada, or Frances Dorsey, Associate Professor, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

The Japan Textile Council, an organization of college and university textile faculty, was formed in October 2004. The goal of the organization is to focus on both textile history and evolution in education. There is a strong emphasis on the next generation of textile artists. The group held their first show in August 2005 and will also have a show this summer at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa, Japan. The website includes images of artwork and information about the Council’s members.           




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