World threads: Fiber art international adds to the global art feel (Sandra Jane Heard)

April 28, 2013


M. Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A sign of the sophistication of the Pittsburgh art scene is its global engagement exemplified by a second cosmopolitan exhibition in this year of the Carnegie International, which opens in October.

"Fiberart International 2013" debuted last weekend at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Society for Contemporary Craft. This widely applauded triennial of contemporary fiber expression is organized by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

The 21st edition continues the exhibition's high standards, pushing boundaries of medium, technique and artistic practice. These range from large jacquard loom showpieces by professors Janice Lessman-Moss, Kent State University in Ohio, and Argentine Gabriela Nirino, National University of Buenos Aires; to the rice-studded collars of Art Institute of Chicago MFA student Aram Hans and Seattle studio artist Carol Milne's glass socks.

The exhibition drew 1,259 proposals by 525 artists from 36 countries -- the most diverse array in the show's history and representing six continents.

Of these, the jurors selected 79 works by 63 artists, 52 of whom are exhibiting for the first time in a Fiberart International. The largest number of exhibitors reside in the U.S. Other countries represented are Argentina, Canada, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Guernsey Channel Islands, a British Crown Dependency.

Men remain a tiny minority, surprising because of the extremely generous breadth of interpretation of what constitutes fiber art. That bolsters the exploration of the domestic/feminist side of fiber as in Sandra Jane Heard's inventive "Vestiges of Emancipation," an ode to suffragettes in the form of female torsos comprising woven vintage steel tape measures.

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