exhibitions

ICON Gallery Exhibit, plus a night in Fairfield

Work by Astrid Hilger Bennett, Icon Gallery, Fairfield

Contemporary Art Quilts of Astrid Hilger Bennett, Carol Coohey, BJ Parady and Judy Zoelzer Levine is featured exhibition at ICON Gallery in Fairfield, Iowa. What a wonderful installation: clean, light-filled and spacious, the best installation of my own work I’ve ever come across. This is ICON’s first-ever art quilt exhibition; exhibit dates are October 7 to November 12. ICON is located at 58 Main St. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday noon to 4pm, Saturday 1 – 4pm, and by appointment. For more information, contact ICON Gallery by phone, 641.919.6252.

“Curators Wendy Read and Karen Harris have brought four of the best contemporary art quilters in the region to ICON Gallery,” says ICON Director Bill Teeple. “If you are used to traditional quilt making in Iowa, this will be an eye opener. It contains the visual and conceptual impact of a contemporary painting exhibit.” My personal opinion is that the Midwest is rich with exceptional art quilters. We appreciate the compliment, and curator Wendy Read, also a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) Iowa Representative and Karen Harris did a great job balancing styles of work, which makes for a conceptually strong show. What follows are images more from my own section of the exhibit; the work was divided up by artist into different mini-galleries. By the way, Carol Coohey, BJ Parady and Astrid Hilger Bennett, are all members of the Surface Design Association, and all four of us, including Judy Zoelzer Levine, are members of SAQA. For a more detailed look at images in this post, be sure to click on the image and watch it expand.

Looking towards the gallery with Judy Zoelzer Levine’s Body of Evidence, Contemporary Art Quilts, ICON Gallery

more from Judy Zoelzer Levine’s Body of Evidence, ICON Art Gallery

 

left to right: BJ Parady, Carol Coohey, Astrid Hilger Bennett & Director Bill Teeple in front of a work by Coohey, ICON Art Gallery

Astrid with her work, Icon Gallery, Fairfield, IA

Carol Coohey is a newer, talented fiber artist living in Coralville, Iowa,  who has recently really found her own voice. This collection of work, entitled Voices, is powerful and was developed using many surface design techniques inclduing drawing, discharge, screenprinting and painting before quilting. Carol explains, “My most recent work focuses on the rights of girls and women, especially in the Middle East.  To make my collage paintings, I use un-gessoed cloth as the foundation.  I draw, paint and print on cloth with dye, discharge paste, ink and acrylic paint.   I spend half my time teaching and conducting research on violence at a university and half of my time creating art.  The themes in my research often carry over into my artwork.  Earlier in my career, I worked as a graphic artist and an art therapist.

In the Voices Series, I focus on how policy and culture affect the lives of women and girls living in the Middle East.  I explore universal themes, such as the right to an education and the influence of culture on girl’s and women’s decision-making. Stylistically, I’ve drawn on graffiti street art which has become a form of political protest in the Middle East during recent years.”

Illinois artist BJ Parady works primarily on silk and recyled fabrics, creating smaller pieces where marks made by stitching are important. She interprets Midwestern landscape. “My art reflects the microcosm in which I live—where the tall grass prairie used to be. I am inspired daily by the big skies, the reflection of light on water, the remaining remnants of native plants. I have come to embrace the idea of abstraction—capturing the essence of a moment rather than a literal depiction of a scene that could just as easily be photographed.”

Judy Zoelzer Levine’s Body of Evidence series is composed of 25 art quilts interpreting the female human form. A Wisconsin artist, Levine created these works over a span of many years.

Astrid Hilger Bennett approaches her pieces as she would a piece of music, using painting, monoprinting, screenprinting and other techniques to make large scale, abstract wall art. For more information on  her work, please check out the gallery and other pages on this website.

Contemporary Art Quilts, ICON Gallery

SDA Confluence Conference, part one

Tim Harding’s Exhibit at the Nash Gallery

In June, I had the opportunity to attend Confluence, the biennial International Conference of the Surface Design Association. As an SDA Board member, I knew that my tasks at the Conference went beyond mere participation, —I am in charge of all the “state” or Area Representatives — but I had a wonderful time. What I’ve always appreciated about the SDA Conferences is that they provide not only a forum for networking and sharing of technical information, but they are also a rich snapshot of what’s currently interesting in fiber art. Not all fiber art gets covered, of course, but participants on all levels of expertise return home with food for thought on many levels.

one third of the Members’ Show, Merge & Flow, sandwiched between other stellar exhibits at the Nash Gallery

 Add to that, participants have the opportunity to see more than thirty exhibitions of contemporary fiber art, which alone would make the conference worth attending. Other events included a stellar fashion show of members’ work, dynamic speakers and demonstrations, a members’ trunk show, a vendor fair, regional members’ meetings, and special interest gatherings, for example, for educators or batik artists. The beginning of the light rail expansion  directly in front of the hotel caused some traffic complications in being able to see all the exhibitions, but most participants did go with the “merge and flow” and used the time to get to know one another.

members’ meet & greet started our day of Gallery hopping

Now in its 36th year, SDA came to pass in the time when local and national craft organizations were encouraged to add the work “design” or “designer” to their names in order to distinguish the kinds of work their artists did from folk and hobby craft. The Surface Design Association was born. Despite its longevity and history, the phrase “surface design” still causes some confusion. Here’s how it is defined on SDA’s new website:

Surface Design refers to any process that gives structure, pattern, or color to fiber & fabric. These include spinning, felting, papermaking, weaving, knotting, netting, looping, dyeing, painting, stitching, cutting, piecing, printing, quilting, & embellishing.

And here’s something about the organization:
The Surface Design Association is an international community engaged in the creative exploration of fiber & fabric. Our mission is to promote awareness & appreciation of the textile arts. Through member-supported publications, exhibitions & conferences, we inspire creativity, encourage innovation, & advocate excellence.

Confluence is co-sponsored by the Textile Center of Minnesota. Director Margaret Miller tells us that the Center is comprised of 900 members in 35 member organizations. Now located in what was once a car dealership, the Center contains meeting rooms, gallery areas, a sales shop, a 23,000 volume library, and a well-equipped dye kitchen.

What follows is literally a snapshot my own personal view on the conference. It is not complete, but it reflects my experience and available photos. The exhibits appear in the next post. Bodies of Water Fashion Show, Trunk Show, workshop photos and member pictures appear here. What’s missing? All of the provocative speakers, like India Flint, Pat Hickman, Barbara Lee Smith, Stephen Fraser, Faythe Levine, Natalie Chanin and Jane Dunnewold, plus a wide array of panels and demos. And, all that camaradie, hard to capture. You just had to be there…

Awards Judges Leesa Hubbell and Lynne Pollard examine Penny Collins’ Gown for Great Pacific Garbage Patch Ball, made of recycled plastic bags and winner of the SDA Award of Excellence
examining the Fashion Show entries

talking with Fashion Show Coordinator Anna Lee

Chunghie Lee’s Pojagi-making demonstration
At the DIY fair: altering a T-shirt, fundraiser for the Textile Center of MN (above), TCM lacemaking demo, plus impromptu “fashion show parade” by 17 year-old fashion designer, shown in black suit & glasses (below)

Trunk show & Vendors’ Fair, above and below

Faythe Levine discusses Handmade Nation, which was also shown
international conferees viewing a beaded piece while waiting for Conference buses
one conferee on her way to the Fashion Show finishes the crocheted embellishment on her altered SDA T-shirt

SDA President Candace Edgerly with new American Crafts Council Executive Director Chris Admundsen. The ACC recently moved to Minneapolis from New York City,

Bumping into The Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia

In mid-February, I attended the Buyers’ Market of American Craft as a buyer for Iowa Artisans Gallery.  As we prepared to leave, we discovered our flight was canceled and rescheduled for late in the day. What to do in this lovely city? Our answer was to meander, walking the streets in ways we’d been unable to do prior to this point. Next thing I knew, I was literally bumping into The Fabric Workshop and Museum, a stone’s throw away from the Convention Center, where I’d attended the show for 15 years.

The Fabric Workshop! I’ve been reading about this venerable institution for more than twenty years. Articles have always pinpointed the Workshop’s focus on screen printing, and I’ve been an enthusiastic screen printer for years. Naturally, I’ve always wanted to visit.

The Fabric Workshop was founded by Marian Stroud in 1977, both as a place to train apprentices in the field of textile design and to work with mature artists interested in fabric and unconventional materials. A Decade of Fabric and Art  celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Center. This publication points out the 1960s connections of major artists like Alexander Calder, with the making of fiber art pieces, tapestries in Calder’s case. This precedent led Stroud to invite artists like Louise Nevelson, Robert Morris, Robert Kushner, Jun Kaneko and Ned Smyth into the Workshop early on. 150 artists in all were served during the first decade.

As a screen printer, I gasped with pleasure at the long tables and deep space of this printing studio.

The Fabric Workshop refined its mission in 1996, adding Museum to its name. Artists are still offered the chance to work as Artists-in-Residence with unconventional materials, not all of them fabric or textile-related. The screen printing areas serve at-risk youth in Philadelphia schools, as well as high school-, college- and postgraduate-level apprenticeships. Current artists in residence at the Workshop are profiled on the website.  The Workshop is housed on several floors of a building, with exhibition halls, screen printing production studios, administrative offices, and conservation facilities for its 5500 objects made by 400 participating artists. It also houses a museum shop where screen printed items are sold in addition to books and other goodies.

During my visit, I viewed New American Voices II, an exhibition of contemporary sculpture, installation and wall works by Robert Pruitt, Jim Drain, Jiha Moon and Bill Smith. Vastly different in concept and execution, these works will challenge anyone looking for a more traditional approach to fiber art. I was especially drawn to the work of Robert Pruitt. His website does not do his contemporary work justice, so I won’t cite it here. I am not able to share images of those exhibits with you.

By becoming a contemporary art center, the Fabric Workshop has invested in its future by insuring two grant-funding streams: contemporary art, plus under-served populations. I hope that it continues to capitalize on its roots in fiber art in its appeal to artists, providing them a truly unique opportunity to make works not otherwise easily made. If you’re in Philadelphia, don’t do what I did and wait 15 years to visit this inspiring and provocative place.

interesting way of preserving samples
a wall display shows images from early years
Screen, test piece and drop cloth
The Fabric Workshop & Museum is located at 1214 Arch St in Philadelphia
the front window of the building showcases items fabricated from FW&M fabrics, for sale in the Museum Shop
My $12 purchase, a bag with two interesting sides, a difficult choice with so many patterns to pick from
The Fabric Workshop and Museum is located at 124 Arch Street in downtown Philadelphia. For contact and membership information, please visit this link.

Artquilts at the MacNider Art Museum

Summer is the perfect time for a road trip. If you’re in the neighborhood, check out the Charles MacNider Art Museum in Mason City (home to Meredith Wilson, creator of the Music Man). The MacNider is a charming regional museum with a nice collection of American art as well as Bill Baird’s puppets. Baird was the creator of the marionettes in The Sound of Music. You’ll also see an exhibit of my work, on view until September 4. The exhibit is the result of being awarded Best in Show in the Iowa Craft exhibition last November. Here are some photos from the installation.

Fellow artist Connie Roberts (above), a wooden whistle sculptor, accompanied me
a lovely modern addition to the MacNider houses a special exhibition space plus this area for contemporary ceramics
We also visited Clear Lake, 11 miles west of Mason City. It was also the day for a Bicycle, Blues & Barbecue Festival, looked and smelled great…