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Monday, April 30, 2012

Cut and Paste

Two SDA Vermont members have their work included in the upcoming collage exhibit:

"Cut & Paste"

May 4 through May 26, 2012

The S.P.A.C.E. Gallery in the Soda Plant
266 Pine Street,
Burlington, VT
(802) 578-2512

Ferrisburgh member Deanna Shapiro will have ten of her mixed media collage pieces in the show, and Waterbury Center member Elizabeth Fram will also show three of her textile collage pieces.

Join them and the other artists for the:

Opening Reception: Friday, May 4th, 5-9 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Thurs-Sat. 11-4 p.m.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Craft in America - Woven Textiles and Story Quilts

THREADS: New Episode of the Peabody Award winning series CRAFT in AMERICA
premieres Nationwide on PBS Friday, May 11, 2012 at 9:00pm*
*check your local listings
"Explore luscious woven textiles and story quilts by artists
Faith Ringgold, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Terese Agnew and Randall Darwall"

Shibori and Natural Dye Workshop with Joan Morris

“Shaped Resist Dyeing with Indigo and Woad” with Joan Morris
22 June – 26 June 2012
Canandaigua, NY
Contact Sara Burnett,

This is a a 5 day class in shaped-resist dyeing using natural dyes, including indigo, woad, a variety of natural dye extracts, madder root, cochineal bugs, and walnut galls.  This class is geared towards students at various levels of experience; from the beginner to those with prior experience and a desire to expand their vocabulary, experiment, sharpen skills and gain greater control of materials.  All levels are welcome in this class.  The beginner can expect to learn 10- 12 forms of shaped-resist (shibori), while they gain knowledge of mordanting with alum, and dyeing with the above mentioned natural dye stuffs. New to my classes will be the addition of a woad dyebath, a process at once similar to and different from indigo dyeing.  As they are available, new natural dye extracts will be added to the materials we’ll use in class (e.g. coreopsis extract).   Color shifting (with ammonia, vinegar and iron) presents additional color possibilities for each of the dyestuffs we’ll use.  For those with prior experience, bring images of your work, or actual pieces, including work-in-progress, if you would like to engage in a dialog about possible directions that your work could take.  Please note that this is a forum for making samples, experimenting, and making small pieces.  It will not be possible to dye large yardages in this setting. 

Joan Morris began working with shaped resist in 1983, after many years of working with paint, dyes and fabric.  That year also marked the beginning of her work as master-dyer for the Theater Department at Dartmouth College, where she has dyed, painted and printed textiles for more than eighty productions.  Her resist dyed textiles have been exhibited and awarded prizes nationally and internationally, and she has received grants for her work from the Asian Cultural Council, the Vermont Arts Council, the Vermont Community Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, Dartmouth College and private foundations.  Her work is in the permanent collections of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (Smithsonian Institution) in New York, the Museum of Art at RISD, Takeda Kahei Shoten in Arimatsu, Japan, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.  Barney’s New York featured her one-of-a-kind shaped resist dyed shawls in the fall and winter collections of 1990 and 1991.

In 1996 Morris completed a shaped-resist dyed translation project for the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The five-year project involved translation four environmentally significant remote-sensed images into resist-dyed imagery using stitched, pole-wrapped and capped resists, as well as newly invented forms.  An image from this series was selected as the cover art for Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now by Yoshiko Wada (Kodansha International 2002).  Morris’s paper on this translation project was presented at the International Textile and Science conference in the Czech Republic.  Her paper on the diffusion of shaped-resist dye methods was presented at the 3rd International Textile Symposium in the Republic of Georgia in 2001, and her work in the field of textile modification for theatre has been presented internationally.  Joan Morris has been a panelist and invited artist in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th International Shibori Symposia in India, Chile, England and Japan, and was an invited artist in the Kimono Project at ISS `92, in Nagoya, Japan.  In recent years she has designed and fabricated the shaped resist textiles for “The Lion King” on Broadway as well as for the Japanese, UK-Continental Europe, Canadian, Los Angeles, and road show productions.
“Camptown 2”,  2009,  36.5” x 47”
22 k gold/platinum mono print on shaped resist dyed ground
(photo: Joe Mehling)

In 1998 Joan Morris began research on the incorporation of mechanical resist and precious metal application into the shaped resist process.  She continues to work at making art works that merge these methods.  She and fellow artist Michele Ratté collaborated in the invention of a washable, precious and base metal printing process for textiles and other substrates.  They own the United States patent for their invention.  In her own studio work, Morris creates resist dyed art works and unique prints using high karat gold on shaped resist dyed substrates.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

North Country Studio Workshop in Review

From Marilyn Gillis: Guest Blog Author
Attending North Country Studio Workshops is a rewarding and fun experience. This past January my friend Chris Abrams and I took the encaustics workshop at NCSW. Familiar faces were on campus in other classes. SDA members Dianne Schullenberger took the bamboo workshop, Pam Druhen took the quilt class and Betsy Fram took the drawing class. I think each of us would encourage you to consider attending in 2014.

the Encaustics class with Daniella Woolfe.
(member Marilyn Gillis is second row, first person on left; friend Chris Abrams is first row, second person from left)

NCSW is held biannually on the beautiful campus of Bennington College, usually the last week in January. The classes are held in the Visual and Performing Arts building on campus so the workshop accommodations are excellent. Instructors at NCSW are nationally prominent artists and the workshop offerings range from ceramics, metal working, basketry, knitting, crochet, felting, quilting, book arts, and jewelry to drawing, printmaking, sculpture and other media. A wonderful gallery is hung featuring work from all the instructors. A fun and exciting aspect of the week is the Silent Auction. Participants and instructors donate pieces of their art which are on display all week for bidding. The auction ends on the final night amid much frantic last-minute maneuvering among bidders to secure coveted items. The food at NCWS is plentiful, healthy, and delicious – such a treat to have all your meals prepared for you so you can devote your time exclusively to making art. The dorms – well they are college dorms, enough said.

I am a fiber artist. So what lead me to take an encaustic workshop you might wonder? I have taken many wonderful fiber/surface design classes and workshops over many years. I had never gone to NCSW however until 2009 because in my other life I was a teacher, and due to the January timing of NCSW I was never free to attend. As soon as I retired from teaching, NCSW rose to the top of my list of art retreats to attend. In 2009 I took a class there with Ilze Aviks, a renowned artist who makes beautiful hand-stitched work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Quickly however, I discovered the richness of attending an art retreat that offers classes in many different areas beyond fiber. Meeting artists working in many different media is inspiring and thought provoking. I decided that next time I would take a class outside the general area of fiber.
encaustic work done by Marilyn Gillis and Chris Abrams

So how did I end up in the encaustic workshop? Chris and I met Daniella Woolf when we were all students in a workshop with Dorothy Caldwell. Daniella gave a presentation of her art and we were very impressed with her creativity and unique approach combining encaustic and stitch. As soon as we saw her listed as an instructor at NCSW we knew we had to sign up immediately. In addition, Daniella has the most charming and fun personality so we knew we would learn and have great fun at the same time.

encaustic work done by class member Jane Davies.

class Instructor Daniella Woolfe

The encaustic workshop did not disappoint. I would put encaustic work along side marbling and gelatin printing - very seductive because of its immediacy and its tactile appeal – just all fun all the time with no drudge work at all. For those of you who are unfamiliar with encaustic art, it involves painting with highly pigmented waxes on a rigid support surface. Additionally images can be drawn, transferred, carved or printed on the wax surface. Paper, fiber, metal, and natural items can be embedded in the wax. The range and amount of work produced in our workshop was amazing due to the instructor’s skill, the student’s talent, and the medium’s versatility. I came home re-energized and planning to incorporate encaustic with my fiber work.

encaustic piece
encaustic piece
encaustic piece

Friday, April 6, 2012

Read More on FiberPhiladelphia 2012 Exhibitions

“Distinguished Educators” and “Outside/Inside the Box” are Two Extraordinary FiberPhiladelphia 2012 Exhibitions

Posted by Cassandra Hoo on March 07, 2012

“Formal Argument” By Diane Savona

FiberPhiladelphia 2012’s exhibitions, Outside/Inside the Box” and “Distinguished Educators” absolutely knocked my mass-produced snowflake printed socks off. I saw the exhibitions on Friday and I’m still thinking about all of the beautiful and thought provoking pieces of artwork, because they touched me to my core. I agree with Amy Orr’s statement that “Fiber speaks to people on such an immediate and innate level.” Fibers/textiles represent such a huge part of our history, culture, and civilization and remind us of where we came from and who we are today. We also come into contact with fibers/textiles during every part of our daily lives. So despite the fact that much of the work that I saw was innovative and unique, I always felt a comforting sense of familiarity when I deconstructed each piece of artwork down to its material, function, or statement. That sense of familiarity made me leave the Crane Arts Building with the same warm and fuzzy feeling that I get after I’ve had an engaging conversation with a group of friends.

The “Distinguished Educators” and the “Outside/Inside the Box” exhibitions were meant to set up the whole framework for FiberPhiladelphia 2012. The exhibitions both honor the rich history of fibers/textiles and break the confines of what is and isn’t considered fiber/textile art. The “Distinguished Educators” exhibition in the Grey Area features the work of thirteen distinguished fiber/textile educators from institutions across the country that have influenced the field with their artwork and teachings. The “Outside/Inside the Box” exhibition in the Icebox Project Space was blind judged by three top notch jurors: Elisabeth Agro, the Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts for the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Independent Curator, Bruce Hoffman; and Judith Weisman, the Designer and Curator for the Acquisitions Chair of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery Support Group. Over five hundred artists from all over the world applied and submitted several pieces of artwork. Only about seventy-two pieces of artwork made the cut.

The artwork in the “Outside/Inside the Box” vary greatly in scale, material, technique, and subject matter. This was a very intentional and well thought out choice by the jurors. There radically were not any perimeters set on scale or material, because the show wanted to stretch the definition of fibers/textiles and make it more identifiable to a larger range of people. The actual submission instructions for this juried exhibitions are as follows:

“Outside/Inside the Box will showcase innovative fiber/textile art that transcends disciplines; combines tradition with cutting edge technology and/or historic concepts with contemporary perspective. Size, scope, materials and subject matter are open. Submissions may include surface design, woven, 2D and 3D structures, quilts, stitching, body art, etc.”

Bruce Hoffman, one of the jurors for the “Outside/Inside the Box,” gave a really compelling speech about why the jurors made a conscious decision to stretch the bounds and discusses the reasons why fiber/textiles arts has become such a mixed medium:

“The fascinating thing about textile and fiber art within the decorative art world is that if you are a ceramic artist, you have to work with clay. If you are a glass artist, you have to somehow function with glass. If you are a painter, you need to work with a material that is liquid or that can be from one surface to another. If you are a fiber or textile artist, it envelops the process and the material. So if you stack something or pile something — piling is a traditional idea of making textiles — you can actually weave… metal. There is a piece in the other room [The Grey Area] by Warren Seelig that is made out of metal and rock. He is actually weaving the shadows, so it’s a conceptual idea of looking at the secondary element of the material and its relationship to textiles. This is what allows for such a large broad scope and the reason why critics have had fifty or so years of disputing whether it falls in the high side or the low side of the art world. And within that context, especially in the Sixties and Seventies — when many Feminist artists were working with textiles and using them to explore sexuality and political issues — critics put it on the low side of art world, because it related to Feminism and functionality in women’s work. And many men like Robert Morris — and some women who made it to the other side — that were working with textiles and didn’t use the material as their first statement were put on this side of the fence. And women like Sheila Hicks and Lenore Tawney, who came from traditions of Eastern Europe and European ideas of traditional textiles, the critics said that it was decorative art and not high art. So it’s a very interesting thing that’s been explored for the last 60 years, and that is one of the reasons why we wanted to present this exhibition on such a broad scope.”

I have hand picked some of my favorite pieces of artwork from the two exhibitions. Please scroll down to get a preview of what you can expect when you attend these two stellar shows. If you would like to learn more about FiberPhiladelphia, please also read my article: FiberPhiladelphia 2012 Opening Night with Amy Orr and Bruce Hoffman.


“Woosh” By Gerhardt Knodel

“Woosh” is a fun interactive carnival-like game that comments on the art criticism targeted at fiber and textile arts. The goal of the game is to throw the balls (which are stuffed with art criticism articles and are fashioned to look like eyeballs on one side) at the furry targets. When one of the furry targets is hit, a recording of an art criticism is triggered to play.

“Shadow Field/Granite Path” By Warren Seelig

This piece of artwork intertwines metal, stone, shadow, and light in such a beautiful way. Notice how the “Shadow Field” part of the title comes before the “Granite Path” part of the title. The woven rays of light and shadows that the art piece creates are just as important — if not more important — as the art piece itself.


“Formal Argument” By Diane Savona

“Formal Argument” literally creates a fashion statement. Every square inch of this quilted tuxedo suit comments on the history of fiber/textile art and mocks all of the critics that defined fiber/textile art as a low form of art.

“Exposed: An Armory of Physical Longings” By April Dauscha

I love how these pieces channel the architectural undergarments of the past to create a visual metaphor for women’s deepest desires and insecurities.

“In the Eye of the Beholder” By Emily Dvorin

I am a eco-friendly nut, so I am always jumping for joy when I see sustainable artwork. It was interesting to see how the artist combined oxygen tubing, plastic lids, gutter clips, bottle tops, med-testers, florist card holders, and cable ties for this spunky and funky basket.

“Basket” By Amber Cowan (Photograph is a close up perspective of Amber’s stunning glass work)

“Basket,” a piece completely made out of glass, definitely shattered the notion of what can and can’t be defined as Fiber/textile art. Amy Orr commented on the piece to my tour group by saying, “It’s an interesting approach to consider how the artist first of all decided to apply for this exhibition and consider this her medium and her field … and for the jurors to actually choose it in that same light.”

“Bystander” By June Lee

I like the bright array of colors and textures in this piece, as well as the social commentary that is created by the careful placement of each of these figures. When I first saw a picture of this on FiberPhiladelphia’s website, I thought each of the figures were life sized. In reality, they are at most 4-6 inches tall.

“Collapse #1336″ by Debora Muhl

The undulating lines that this dynamic geometric piece creates is just spectacular. The high level of technical skill, imagination, and mathematical understanding is also beyond impressive.

There are so many more amazing photographs of art pieces that I wish I could show you. However, I think it would be better to not give it all away and ruin the surprise for you. Stay tuned for more FiberPhiladelphia 2012 coverage!

Written and photographed by Cassandra Hoo: Contributing Writer, SideArts

Interview with Amy Orr, Executive Director of FiberPhiladelphia

Q&A with Amy Orr, Executive Director of FiberPhiladelphia

By Felicia D'Ambrosio (Photos by Neal Santos)

Amy FiberPhiladelphia

Can a basket be made of glass? Can an artist weave with shadow and light? FiberPhiladelphia, a biennial of “fiber arts” running through April, explores the outer reaches of material and technique in dozens of shows citywide. Amy Orr, an exhibiting artist and faculty member at the women’s-only Moore College of Art, has stepped into the role of Executive Director of what she calls “this fledgling organization.”

The Crane Arts Building in Kensington will serve as the hub of the expansive collection of shows, featuring four distinct exhibits from noon-6pm, Wednesday through Sunday. A complete listing of exhibits can be found at, and you can see Amy Orr’s own House of Cards – a two-year assemblage of plastic credit, gift, insurance, and novelty cards – in the group show, "A Sense of Place," at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, curated by FiberPhiladelphia founder Bruce Hoffman.

“It’s a very evocative field, from the fine artists to the quilt of a grandmother,” Orr adds. “We all have some connections.” We caught up with the artist to talk about granny techniques reclaimed by craft activists, transcending materials, and the strangest thing she’s ever made.

Why is Philadelphia known for fiber art and artists?

Philadelphia has always been a center for fiber; it really dates back to industry. Philadelphia had a rich textile industry, and there are still interesting textile manufacturers in Philadelphia…that overlaps with us for reason of commerce. As for the educational aspect, Philadelphia Textile is now Philadelphia University, focusing on fashion, and textiles as a fine art…which what everyone really wants to do. There’s also University of the Arts, and Drexel, with their amazing fashion program that links to business. Then you’ve got educators, students, people who own businesses… we have lots of talent. The Fabric Workshop is here…with all these individuals, institutions and endowments just in the region, we have always had in interest in fibers.

Many people think of fiber arts as quilts, or traditional handicrafts like knitting or embroidery What new materials and techniques are represented in this year’s show?

In fibers, we almost always start with repurposed materials, dating back to quilts. They were repurposing any scraps they could and any paper they could, to create and line the quilts. This is the tradition, so we are still working traditionally, but with new materials.

All of the work can be looked at as fine art. Some of the interesting materials we’re seeing this year are sausage casing and gut – not so unusual any more – food rinds like grapefruit and orange peels, X-rays, and repurposed plastics like newspaper bags. There’s so much crocheting going on with plastic.

They’re so many discarded plastic bags, it seems like an inexhaustible material.

That’s right! I actually try to steer my students away from it, because we see so much of it now. In addition, materials have form, function and also political implications. ‘Craftivism’ [craft + activism]and politics linked to the kind of materials artists are using has become so big, there’s a name for it.

In the “Plastics” series of your own work, you create mosaics out of credit cards, sewn onto cloth backing. Do you consider this fiber art?

That’s one reason I’m a really interesting leader for FiberPhiladelphia., When you look at my work, you question what is going on in it… and that’s really the whole field. My roots are in tradition; in my work, you can see a tumbling block pattern in credit cards. It makes reference to Amish quilts and Italian textile… traditional patterns from different cultures. It strengthens our mission a little bit, on how people will view the field. It’s not just knitted handicrafts. There is a huge field of work that uses ‘fiber’ conceptually, not as materials.

FiberPhiladelphia has been doing an “official” biennal since 2008. How has the project evolved?

The regional biennial really started taking place in 1998. At that time Bruce Hoffman started doing a group fiber show at Synderman-Works Gallery, with the support of the Snydermans. It was internationally received; no one had done a contemporary fibers show in Philadelphia for many years.

There were also other things to see – something at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fabric Workshop. Two years later, it happened again, with more venues taking interest in a pretty haphazard way. It always had a life of its own.

I got involved in the early 2000s to organize it. I’m an exhibiting artist myself and that is my interest. It’s always had this interesting force behind it, and been very easy to pull things together. Bruce as an independent contractor and I were faced with organizing it for this year, and we really decided to take it on. It’s an exciting process…I knew I wouldn’t get paid, but the moment I decided two years ago, I decided to do my best.

Both of us have this huge network of talented friends…so much pro bono work has gone into this. That’s my dream, to pay these talented people, take this and grow it. It needs to grow in every way.

You described yourself in an email as a “new Executive Director of a fledgling organization.” Is this sort of administrative job a new role for you?

Yes, this is a new role for me – this kind of administration job is new. I’ve been an educator and chairperson of an art department, and this is something for years I’ve been trying to avoid. I really took it on two years ago, my partner Bruce Hoffman and I, and a group of five volunteers. I don’t know when you become an it when you buy a website that says .org? We really founded FiberPhiladelphia when we asked InLiquid Gallery to be our conduit two years ago.

Joan Dreyer (Associate Curator, Development of FiberPhiladelphia), Amy Orr (Director), Bruce Hoffman (Curator, Development)

So InLiquid is a key partner for FiberPhiladelphia?

They are the fiscal conduit. We are exploring how far we can go, without becoming our own nonprofit. We’re really studying; I haven’t been an administrator in this capacity, but a scholar observing it. Partnering a nonprofit with a business like InLiquid...we’re just learning, and trying to see what’s next.

Why are you drawn to fiber?

I think it’s definitely related to my family – my mother and her sisters. I was brought up with textiles and fabrics and thrift shop clothing as just a part of our family tradition: all the things to do with both making and exchanging clothing among many women.

My aunt Lottie was a weaver; she was very inspirational to me. I never actually saw her weaving...but she became an occupational therapist and provided supplies and stories.

Do you knit or crochet at home?

Yes, I do crochet…at the moment I am crocheting a big plastic structure, like a fence, out of trash bags. I also embroider. These things come in and out of my work, as well.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve made from crochet, or textiles in general?

Hmmm...In the last few years...that’s not really strange…Oh! I know! A quilt made out of chicken bones. That’s a good one.

If someone only had time to go see one exhibit, which would you suggest, and why?

Opening next week in Wayne, PA is Art Quilt Elements, which is an international quilt exhibition. It’s stunning, people love the show, and it’s very evocative, amazing artwork.

Finally, why do you think there has been a renaissance of this kind of art?

I think it relates to the hand crafts resurgence and the makers…people are doing crafts in their home. It’s like a back to nature or green movement…they relate on putting the pieces together. These are art and craft forms that you can handle, you can take it places, it’s portable, and a lot of it is very good for people who need to dual-task all the time.

Another reason why it’s popular, is it’s about getting together with people, knitting or crocheting. That extends into the network of fine artists. It’s a community, the fiber community. I don’t think you’d say there was a ‘painting community’ in the same way.

When: Through Sunday, May 13
Where: Art galleries around the Philadelphia area
More info: FiberPhiladelphia

Photos by Neal Santos