Monday, April 9, 2012

Thought-Provoking Art at Fiber Philadelphia

There was a great deal of art that I immediately fell in love with during my Fiber Philadelphia gallery hopping.  But there were also pieces that left me, well, wondering what was going on.   So I asked an expert .....

Thankfully, Frank (whose last name I forgot to ask) at the Snyderman-Works Gallery was very generous with his time.  One work that challenged me at Snyderman-Works was a piece by Sonya Clark called, "Black Cross Worn Thin II" made of combs.

Detail, "Black Cross Worn Thin II"
Sonya Clark at the Snyderman-Works Gallery
I asked Frank why this piece was hanging in the gallery during a fiber exhibition.  To me, it didn't seem to fit.  Frank gave me a very thought provoking answer as to why it DID.  To paraphrase, he noted that Ms. Clark had made her start in fibers and that they'd been working with her for many years.  The evolution in her work referenced back to the waft and weave of cloth.  No doubt about it;  the way the artist had arranged the combs and cut out some of the teeth gave her composition the look of something woven.  

When I challenged him on the use of plastic -- I mean, come on, the combs are plastic --  he patiently reminded me that Tyvek was as well and that both Tyvek and combs were made from strands of plastic fibers bound together.  If one material was acceptable, then so was the other.  


He then asked me why I was so ready to accept the metal pieces by Lanny Bergner as part of the show.

Detail, "Canister of Filtered Air"
Lanny Bergner at Snyderman-Works Gallery

I replied that the way Mr. Bergner had woven the metal had the look of cloth and appeared pliant.  Well, from a distance, Frank responded, didn't the composition with the combs look woven and possibly pliant, too?   And if so, doesn't it reference textiles and have a very secure place in this display of fiber art?

I conceded the point and, thanks for Frank, I think I'm a bit more open-minded about what may be considered fiber art.  At the end of the weekend I was very happy to hear Bruce Hoffman say in his closing remarks of the conference that Warren Seelig "weaves shadows".  Thank God there were people way smarter than me available to help me understand.  I absolutely loved "Shadow Field/Granite Path", but would never have been able to explain its place in the weekend's exhibitions so elegantly.  

Side view "Shadow Field/Granite Path"
Warren Seelig, courtesy 10 High Street Gallery


norma said...

When I went to the Snyderman Works Gallery a few years ago for their fiber exhibit, there was a piece made of combs, probably by the same artist. There were also pieces made of credit cards, wire, rubber, wood, etc. and I thought it was such an exciting and out-of-the-box exhibit. Thanks for sharing these pieces.

Kristin L said...

Good for you for stopping and asking questions! I see Ikat patterns when I look at the comb piece which I think would have been enough for me, but the stones would have been a stretch fiber-wise. I think it is eye-opening, and interesting to hear the connections others make that I may not have come up with.

Karen L R said...

very thought provoking, vivien!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Loved this post Vivien. I couldn't make the SAQA conference and this gives me some perspective on what I missed. Thank you for asking the question!

Pamela Price Klebaum said...

Vivien, this was really an enlightening post. Thank you for engaging the gallery person. It is especially thrilling for me to be able to see these pieces online with such an informed analysis.

Diana said...

you might find "Frank" here