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Fiberart at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

April 20, 2010

The purpose of Fiberart exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is to display innovative works of art using a variety of fabrics. The exhibition is “rooted in traditional fiber materials, structure, processes and history,” but has taken the craft in many directions.

As life complexifies, we create more metaphors to describe it. A common metaphor that has arisen is that of fabric. We talk about the social fabric of a city or nation, or the fabric of space-time. Fabric is never something of note in-and-of itself; It is what you do with the fabric, how you cut and reshape it, that is noteworthy. Each thread in our metaphorical fabric is an idea, a synecdoche for something larger, and the fabric itself, once finished, is the totality thus created. And with a little cutting and sewing, a new element can emerge.

In Fiberart, Leisa Rich‘s No Sense Crying Over Spilled Milk is interactive; there are pieces of embroidered vinyl that can be Velcroed onto a larger backdrop. Each image is iconic of modern society, so you can create your own social fabric out of the images you select.

There are a variety of works that look like paintings from afar, but when approached, are clearly made of fabric and thread. They have not just the illusion of depth, but actual depth. Indeed, Jayne GaskinsAs You Find It, Leave It, is a a pair of legs walking out of the canvas, and popping a few inches out of the wall.

As you fond it leave it

One work that particularly caught my attention was Hannah Streefkerk‘s fixing the landscape, a series of photographs of rocks in which apparent crevices are sewn together. It gives the rocks a patchwork feel, making them look fragile and old.

Ayelet Linderstrauss Larson, in Embroidered Scribbles on a Page in my Notebook, took a page filled with some serious group theory and embroidered the inevitable margin art into the page.

Craft and fine art have been merging in recent years, due in part to a do-it-yourself ethos and a commitment by many artists to use found objects and environmentally sustainable mediums. The medium of fiber is broad, and contains not only thread and fabric, but also teabags. In Garden Variations, Ruth Tabancay fused hundreds of dyed teabags to make a tapestry. Other artists used nylon, wool, recycled plastic, pine needles and coffee straws.

A fabric can be made of anything, so long as, once made, it can be reformed or re-purposed.

The Fiberart exhibition, presented by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, will be on display until August 22nd.

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