Thursday, July 21, 2011

Traces - Mapping a Journey in Textiles

This past spring, I had the opportunity to visit the Gregg Museum of Art and Design to see a wonderful fiber art exhibition. Even though the exhibition is over, I want to share my thoughts and some photos of from the exhibition with my readers.

Barbara Lee Smith, curator, put together a sterling group of fiber artist for an exhibition at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design at North Carolina State University.
Each artist has developed a mature voice and stretches the limits of fiber in their own direction.

Artists included Marian Bijlenga from the Netherlands, Rachel Brumer and Lou Cabeen from Washington, Dorothy Caldwell from Canada, Carol Ann Carter from Kansas, Kyoung Ae Cho from Wisconsin, Marc Dombrosky from Nevada and Michigan, Nancy Erickson from Montana, Susan Lordi Market from Missouri, Gail Rieke from New Mexico, Devorah Sperber from New York and Clare Verstegen from Arizona.

It was the first time I had the opportunity to see in person the unique work of Devorah Sperber who recreates classical images in spools of thread that can only be interpreted when viewed at a distance with a "viewing sphere" that turns the image upright and lets the brain assemble the dots of color into a familiar image.

Kyoung Ae Cho
created a series with seedling tree roots and burn marks that was lyrical and evocative at the same time.
I love this artist's work. ILink have literally sat on the floor in front of one of her pieces in Quilt National and studied it for hours.

Much of the art was of large scale. Marian Bijlenga's
Palimpsest 1 was both minute and grand of scale. A detail is seen on the cover of the catalog. The overall dimensions were 106 x 108". Much of her work had the same opposite scale characteristics and masterful use of space.

Dorothy Caldwell also masters scale usage with small details keeping the eye moving across and around her monumental pieces. The second photograph is her
Fjord which is 120 x 114". It is wonderful to see fiber work on such a grand scale, and used so effectively as these two artists are able to do it.

At first look, Caldwell's
Fjord appears to be a weaving with patches. Upon closer viewing, it is surface designed with her own silkscreen printing with small appliques and much hand stitching of details. To get a feel for the masterful use of color, look at the number of different shades in the blue band near the top of Fjord.

The third photo is a detail of Fjord and shows her silkscreen background work and the hand stitching across the surface of her work. Caldwell's work can overwhelm in the pure size of her pieces, but then they draw the viewer in to look at details and textures created by hand stitches.

Caldwell spent a year traveling in the Canadian Arctic and Australian Outback where seemingly small details mark the place in great expanses. Her work conveys the importance of these markings very well.
Having traveled above the Arctic Circle in the summer of no night, I love the imagery in "How Do We Know When It's Night?" It takes me back to the long daylight hours when there was no darkness or "night". Caldwell has an amazing ability to convey location with her work.

The Gregg Museum and Lynn Jones Ennis, the Associate Director and Curator of the Collection, are to be congratulated on this excellent exhibition guest curated by Barbara Lee Smith. The selection of artists was inspired. The work was well hung and showed very well in the gallery at the Gregg. The catalog is well done, and quite informative with excellent photography to document the work for the future.

I look forward to future fiber exhibitions at the Gregg.



  1. This is a very thoughtful and insightful review of Dorothy Caldwell's work. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. I find Dorothy's work mesmerizing. Love the scale she works in. It is so appropriate for the land in which she lives and works.

    Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comment. Nancy

  3. Great review Nancy, i had not heard of some of these artists, and enjoyed looking at their work. I tried to find the catalog online, but can't seem to locate it.

  4. I purchased the catalog at the Gregg Museum. I would check with them. They may have copies left to sell.

    Thanks for reading and the comments.

    I was not familiar with several of the artists either, so the exhibition had some really wonderful surprises.