fiber and art

Generally I try to keep things beautiful and upbeat here. But lately I have found myself increasingly disgruntled about the art world and the role fiber art plays in it.

While on vacation, I visited my favorite modern art museum Louisiana, beautifully situated on the waters edge north of Copenhagen in Denmark. It is a large museum, with a vast collection of contemporary art. When we were there in July, there were no fiber art on display, with the exception of a piece by Pia Arke that was included in the main theme exhibit about Scandinavian architecture.

Pia Arke's work Soil for Scorebysund, consists of a collection of coffee filter bags from her native Greenland. One of the few fiber art pieces at Louisina museum of modern art.

Recently the amazing exhibit Disintegration and Repair, at Warm Springs Gallery, which included several nationally and internationally renown fiber artists, was received warmly by the public, but generated few sales and little attention or reviews from local press and art establishments.

Work by Barbara Wisnoski and Kathryn Clark at Warm Springs Gallery.

I am just using these examples to illustrate how fiber art is met with hesitation, if it is included at all, in more traditional art venues. I think there is an ingrained suspicion towards fiber among art curators, art critics, and art audiences in general. Somehow textile art is considered fragile, fleeting, and flimsy. Then there is the debate whether it is really art, or fine craft. Where do you draw the line? Do you have to draw a line?

Work by Karen Henderson at Warm Springs Gallery.

My wish is to garner a greater respect for the medium itself. Fiber art is no more precious, or insubstantial, or folksy, than any other medium. It is what the artist does with the medium that gives it meaning. Textile art can be good and bad, just as any other art form. I think great fiber art deserve a place alongside great paintings, prints, and video art.

In general (of curse there are exceptions) fiber art is most successful in venues where buyers, curators, collectors, and gallery owners have an interest because of the medium. Most of us probably fall in this category. Our love of fiber, makes us seek out good fiber art via specialty galleries, online venues, and exclusive fiber shows.

But my passion for the art form wants me to promote it in a wider sense. Not just to advance my own work, but because I truly think that fiber art belongs on the big stage. I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you have ideas about how to make this happen? How to further the understanding about fiber art and its qualities? I suggest that you visit these amazing artists, who all deserve a place in the most prestigious galleries and museums; Barbara Wisnoski, Karen Henderson, India Flint, Judy Martin, Roz Hawker, Dorothy Caldwell, and Beverly Ayling-Smith. The list could go on...