Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fiber Happenings at the Edge Center Gallery

During June the Edge Center Art Gallery will host an exhibit featuring “Fiber Art” that ties together past traditions and current ideas.  The term "Fiber Art" refers tofine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility”. Fabrics were made by hand using knitting needles, crochet hooks or simple looms for centuries, and then, during the industrial age, those processes were taken over, in large part, by factory production.  Workers still continued to create “needle work” to make clothing or to decorate their homes, keeping alive the traditions. The term “Fiber Art” came about after WWII to describe works in the art world, using traditional fibers to make not only clothing, but to make artistic statements. Ref: 

Artistic expressions in fiber from a number of different artists will be on display in Fiber Happenings, an exhibit in the Edge Center Gallery Bigfork MN (above). The fiber work of 8 artists may be seen from June 2 until June 25.  The Opening Reception is Friday, June 3 from 5:00 to 7:00.

As you might expect the art shown at the Bigfork Gallery is but a slice of the “Fiber Art” world. And other examples include everything one might expect from such a large potential resource. Note the Yarn Bombing in Montreal in 2009 above or sculpture below.  They will not be at the Edge Exhibit, but you can learn more about “Fiber Art” at  

Many traditions inspire the Edge exhibit artists.  Oklahoma artist Michele Lasker (below) credits her travel experiences as sources of visual information.  Especially useful to her are “walking The Great Wall, studying the hand-chiseled designs on the doors of La Sagrada Familia, or climbing The Acropolis to see the statuesque columns of the Parthenon.  My travels throughout the world have shown me the synchronicity between different countries and cultures with similar approaches to fiber, miles apart and separated by centuries. I am most intrigued by that historical and contemporary context.”  In her own work, freeform knitting and crochet are enhanced with batik, hand embroidery, and beading.

Keila McCracken’s work comes from a specific tradition.  In order to achieve the type of weaving she preferred to do, Keila brought a 2000 lb. Industrial Age loom from Scotland to Bemidji, where she create traditional fabric.  Keila is a member of the Northern Minnesota Fibershed which is a group of farmers and fiber artists in the Northern Minnesota region that use local fiber, local dyes, and local labor to meet local fiber needs.

Mary Therese, from Fern Lake near Bemidji, paints and dyes fabrics (above and blow).  She uses batik and other dying methods to create reflections of the natural world, abstracting design elements and using rich vibrant colors.  She uses her fabric in wearable art, window treatments and church paraments, flags and banners.  Her work has grown out of her background in painting and printmaking.  

Two of the fabric artists featured in Fiber Happenings draw from their Native American heritages. Ccholing Taha is a Cree First Nation artist who has recently moved to the Twin Cities. Very complex textured shawls are one of her specialties (below).  “Shawls and wearing blankets are important garments even for modern times.  The shawl honors the drum, expresses modesty, given as a acknowledgment of dedication to the People, and much more.”

Maggie Thompson, Minneapolis based fiber artist, is a member of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe tribe as well as a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.  Thompson knits and weaves with unique designs, rooted in her experiences as a modern Native American woman (below)

Edna Trunt displays her mosaic fabric quilted piece based on a photograph of one of her grandchildren (below). She owns Your Quilting Room in Grand Rapids.

 LeeAnn Geshick’s accomplished weaving (below)

and Bigfork’s Kristen Anderson’s large 2-D felted pieces (below) are also part of Fiber Happenings.

View the wide variety of ways textiles are part of the current art world at Fiber Happenings from June 2 to June 25.

The Opening Reception on Friday, June 3 from 5:00 to 7:00 is a great time to join others in seeing and discussing the work, while enjoying a snack.  And while you are there, consider attending a concert on the Edge Center Stage by “The Divas.”  There is a charge for the concert, but the gallery opening and exhibit is at no charge. The Edge Center is next to the Bigfork School. The Gallery is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  

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