Monday, April 29, 2013

Fiber art at Artfields

(Above:  Artfields Mural in progress during the 10-day arts festival.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

I was honored to have a piece accepted into the premier Artfields Festival and competition. 

 (Above:  The Canopy ... by ME ... Susan Lenz in the Jones and Carter Building at Artfields. 12' x 10' x 18', Vintage household linens, lace, and crocheted doilies.)

It was a truly wonderful experience to have so many people out looking at art in the 38 venues which ranged from restaurants, a cycle shops, dress stores, a bakery, a barbershop, an upscale children's clothing boutique, a shoe store, and three former warehouses that were carefully renovated into art spaces for this exhibition.


In addition to the art competition featuring 400 juried works, there was a farmer's market, a portrait contest, musical performances, various artist talks, family activities, and a mural being painted on a long wall facing the town's green-way where picnics happened regularly.  Steve and I went last Saturday to look at as much art as we could.  It was a great trip.  Unfortunately, we missed a few locations ... but we did manage to see the vast majority of the work on display.  We left town before the announcements of the winners. 

(Above: Shell by Leanna Knapp, Clay and fibers, size variable.)

Artfields was held from April 19th through the 28th.  Three grand prizes were awarded on Saturday night.  The juror's award of $25,000 went to Leanna Knapp of Julietta, GA for Shell, a clay and fiber artwork.  The piece was shown inside a beauty salon which wasn't open last Saturday.  It was, however, visible through the glass front door.  The title card was mounted to the glass ... so, it really was on view though I would have like to walk around the artwork.  A much better photo is obviously available on the Artfields website HERE.
(Above: After # 18088, by Connie Lippert, Fiber and natural dyes, 26.5" x 25 inches.)

So, in no particular order, here are some of the fiber and fiber-like works I saw ... including Connie Lippert's weaving.  All my images can be enlarged; just click on them!  To visit all the works of art, CLICK HERE for the Artfields complete directory and more information about the individual pieces.  

(Above: Black Center by Kristy Bishop, view on shop wall.)

One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog post was to share the work as it was actually seen ... on the walls of ordinary stores and public establishments ... with sales clerks, waitresses, and people shopping.  It was a great way to look at art.  It is an excellent way to gauge the scale of some of these pieces that is otherwise not obvious when browsing the official images.  

(Above:  Black Center by Kristy Bishop, 6' x 6'. Fibers)

I tried to snap a "full" image plus a detail ... but some pieces needed more ...

(Above: Black Center by Kristy Bishop, detail.)

... like a view from an angle ... an attempt to capture the depth of the individual panels ...

(Above: Black Center by Kristy Bishop, detail.)

... and close-ups of the texture.  This was a seriously great piece.  All the cut scraps were hand stitched to the fabric mounted to the panels.  Lots and lots of work!

(Above: Black Center by Kristy Bisthop and Column by Katy Mixon.)

Near the Black Center was Katy Mixon's Column.  While it isn't fiber, it certainly is a lot of layers and reminded me of the definition of an art quilt ... generally three layers held together with stitch.  Art quilters spend a lot of time and mental energy on these "layers".  Also, the meticulousness of stacking these individual sheets of dried acrylic latex paint reminded me of the repetitiveness of handwork, especially the patience involved in embroidery. 

(Above: Column by Katy Mixon, 6' x 10.5" x 12". Layers of dried acrylic latex paint.)

 (Above: Bookzilla II by Karl Beckwith Smith, 18' x 15', Discarded textbooks.)

One of the massive installations, Bookzilla II by Karl Beckwith Smith, had that same sort of meticulous process ... a hut of discarded textbooks.  The interior signage included the name of the recycling company that would be taking away the art at the end of the exhibition!

(Above: Bookzilla II by Karl Beckwith Smith, 18' x 15', Discarded textbooks, detail.)

(Above: Capillary Action by Jennifer Moss, Wool and Mohair over steel and aluminum, 9' x 11'.)

One of our very favorite pieces was Capillary Action by Jennifer Moss.  It was hung in The Hub, the former tobacco warehouse that underwent a total restoration into a small convention center.  It was in this location that all visitors came to register for voting.  Unfortunately, the brick wall with the gray access panel did detract from the impact of this serious fiber artwork.  The amount of work was incredible.  The delicacy of the dangling wool contrasted wonderfully with the organic strength of the branches.    

(Above: Capillary Action by Jennifer Moss.)

Like a lot of fiber artwork, there were people who couldn't resist touching this one.  It is fantastic work.

(Above: Cuban American Pinatas by Elizabeth Mesa-Gaido.)

A few feet away in this giant, open warehouse space was this colorful installation of converted luggage.  Lots of people were smiling and enjoying it.

(Above: Cuban American Pinatas by Elizabeth Mesa-Gaido.)

(Above: Diva by Addelle Sanders, 30" x 30".)

Inside The Hub were temporary walls nicely hung with lots of 2D artwork including this exotic doll-like framed fiber piece, Diva, by Addelle Sanders.

(Above: Diva by Addelle Sanders, 30" x 30".)

Several of the temporary wall units were needed for James Arendt's Jamie which won the top prize, $50,000, an award for the combination of juror's scores and public voting.  

(Above: Jamie by James Arendt, 96" x 150".)

This piece is entirely made up of cut denim.  The seams are also used most effectively.  I've known about his work for quite a while.  He's won Best of Show at Fantastic Fibers in Paducah, KY and been featured in a few craft magazines.  

 (Above: Jamie by James Arendt, 96" x 150".)

 There's nothing quite like being nose to nose with the subject matter, studying the raw edges, examining the staples that attached it to the wall units, and seeing the dimensionality of such a large piece.

(Above: Jamie by James Arendt, 96" x 150".)

The view from the side is especially interesting.  This work is quite engaging.  It feels natural and as easy going as the model's pose.  The entire piece is great.  People really responded to its accessibility.

(Above:  Mini Cine, a one of a kind movie theater, built from scratch from of a 40′ recycled shipping container that showed various art films and films about artists.)

Beyond just looking at and engaging with visual arts in the competition, there were other events and happening during Artfields ... like the Mini Cine.  This international shipping container had been converted into a 33-seat theater with a 100" high definition monitor and a state-of-the-arts sound system.  The films were never more than 10 minutes in length.  Steve and I saw a great one with outstanding graphics that showed what a FedEx package might experience (from the package's point of view and ear-shot) while being shipped from America to Finland.  We laughed and laughed.

Also, there were a few installation artists who were invited to create work especially for Artfields.  These works were not part of the competition ... and two were fibers!

 (Above: Jocelyn Chateauvert, installation artist for Artfields.)

This piece, Latitude, was created by Jocelyn Chateauvert, the first visual artist working in crafts to receive a Smithsonian research fellowship.  She also has work in the Renwick's permanent collection.  She works using handmade paper that is stitched and gathered.
(Above:  Latitude by Jocelyn Chateauvert.)

It was difficult to capture the two individual sections of this interesting fiber art hanging because of the light from outside.

(Above:  Latitude, detail.)

Yet, it was this same light that made the patchwork of paper so gorgeous!

One of the other invited installation artist was Jonathan Brilliant.  I've heard him talk.  He really can live up to his last name ... and, yes, his last name really is "brilliant".

(Above: Jonathan Brilliant's coffee stirrer installation for Artfields.)

Using birch wood coffee stirrers (the type also used by Starbucks), Jonathan makes small weavings and attach to one another and grow and grow until they form unique, organic installations.  The larger "tubes" are the corrugated liners that go around "to go" cups to keep fingers from getting burned.

Generally there's a "closing" party with one of these installations where the public is invited to help take it all down ... and away.  People can generally acquire a small section if they help with the deinstallation process!

By the way, there's never any glue to these incredible structures.  It is just thousands and thousands of coffee stirrers woven together!

Jonathan Brilliant has constructed installations like this all over the world.  He said that he's like many landscape artists ... except that his "world" is an urban one ... the world of the coffee shop!

So ... now back to some of the fiber art and fiber-like artwork that was part of the Artfields competition!

(Above: Eyes on the Prize by Libby Bussinah, Dyes on silk, 42" x 32".)

This fiber art piece first appeared as if an opaque watercolor.  The reflection off the glass made it difficult to get a great photo ... but on closer inspection, the details truly reveals that this was a a painting in dyes and with resists on fabric!  Great realism too!

(Above: Eyes on the Prize by Libby Bussinah, Dyes on silk, 42" x 32".)

(Above: Footsteps by Terrance Hansley, 30" x 16" x 16". Painted clay.)

I had to get close to this piece to understand that it wasn't fibers!  All these shoes were painted clay!

(Above: Footsteps by Terrance Hansley, 30" x 16" x 16". Painted clay.)

They were on view inside a Plexi-glas box at an upscale women's clothing store!

(Above: It's a New Day by Arianne King Comer, Batik and mixed media.)

At a nearby Mexican restaurant I admired Arianne King Comer's batik.  She is also an expert on indigo dying, the traditional methods from here in South Carolina's low country.

(Above: It's a New Day by Arianne King Comer, Batik and mixed media.)

In the public library was L.A. Flight by Mary Edna Fraser.

(Above: L.A. Flight by Mary Edna Fraser, 48" x 52".)

I've heard Mary Edna Fraser speak and give a monotype demonstration to students attending The University of South Carolina, majoring in art.  She's as incredible as her work.

(Above: L.A. Flight by Mary Edna Fraser, 48" x 52".)

(Above: Let There Be Light by Paula Brown, 45.5" x 44. 75".)

Also in the public library was SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) Carolina/Georgia regional representative Paula Brown's Let There Be Light.

(Above: Let There Be Light by Paula Brown, 45.5" x 44. 75".)

The stitching on Paula's piece is certainly wonderful!  Right beside Paula's piece were several computer terminals.  Voting ended on Saturday at 4:00 PM.  Each person could register once ... after showing a government issued, picture ID.  A user name and password allowed each person to log onto the voting website and cast votes for as many pieces as desired ... once ... and only once.  After clicking the "submit" button, a voter was finished.  This process could be done on a home computer, but on Saturday voting ended at 4:00 PM.  In order for people wanting to vote on Saturday, they had to go to entire the Artfields office on Main Street of THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.  The place was full and there was a line ... right under Paula's piece!

(Above: Pink Blue Silver by Camela Guevara, 14" x 18".)

Around the corner was another fiber piece, Pink Blue Silver by Camela Guevara.

(Above: Pink Blue Silver by Camela Guevara, 14" x 18".)

It featured delicate beading.

(Above: Only Words # 4 by Larry Merriman, 72" x 18" x 5.5", shredded paper.)

Fibers came in a variety of forms ... including shredded paper!

(Above: Only Words # 4 by Larry Merriman, 72" x 18" x 5.5", shredded paper.)

There must have been an armature under this ... it was really cool!

(Above: Panicle I "Panikal" I, a Branching Cluster by Samara Thomas, 5' x 3')

Another interesting "fiber-like" piece was Panicle I "Panikal" I, a Branching Cluster, a suspended sculpture made entirely from recycled plastic/foam fruit nets. 

(Above: Panicle I "Panikal" I, a Branching Cluster by Samara Thomas, 5' x 3')

This piece came from Jackson, Mississippi and I had to wonder about shipping it.  What would you use to cushion and pack a piece of artwork created from packaging material? LOL!

(Above: Pink Persuader for the Full Body Squash by Todd Stewart, 96" x 72".)

I laughed at some of the names of other fiber art work too ... like this one!

(Above: Resting Place by Donny Floyd, Mixed Media, 48" x 36".)

Fiber was even used in obvious ways for more traditional types of work, like this abstract painting.  Yes, it is a very "modern" painting ... non-objective ... but still it is a 2D work that falls under the straight-forward category of "painting".  It is the incorporation of the textural piece of material that makes it unique and especially interesting.

(Above: Resting Place by Donny Floyd, Mixed Media, 48" x 36".)

 (Above: Who Are We? by Kat Hastie, 36" x 26", oil on linen on gold leafed panel.)

Other painters also incorporated fabric for other purposes.  I know Kat Hastie.  She's really talented painter who often uses plenty of real gold leafing.  Yet, on this painting she allowed the raw edge of the linen to be exposed.  It truly added an important layer to her work, an interesting and highly affective transition from the painted surface to the decorative gold leafed panel on which it was adhered.

(Above: Who Are We? by Kat Hastie, 36" x 26", oil on linen on gold leafed panel.)

(Above and below: Stars and Bars by Julia Klimek, Corduroy and cotton silk, 94" x 83". One view from each side.)

Some of the fabrics used were unexpected ... even in a rather straight-forward quilt.  The combination of corduroy and "cotton silk" (whatever that is!) was unique ... as well as the fact that this was a two-sided piece.

(Above: Stars and Bars by Julia Klimek, Corduroy and cotton silk, 94" x 83".)

(Above: Tequila Sunrise with artist Elaine Tanner.)

It was great when the artist also happened to be near his or her work ... like getting to meet Elaine Tanner!

(Above: Tequila Sunrise by Elaine Tanner, 24" x 18".)

It is always nice to meet fellow fiber artists ... and other artists like Jacqueline Dunford who sat with her installation of origami at La Bamba Mexican restaurant folding more storks!

(Above:  Jacqueline Dunford folding origami birds at La Bamba.)

Some of the artists spend the entire week at the festival interacting with the public, distributing pre-printed cards advertising their voting number, and asking people for their votes.  Lots of campaigning was happening.  It was interesting to watch but, for Steve and me, it took away from our viewing experience.  I was happy that I didn't go this route.

(Above: The Stages of Inner Man by Jacqueline Dunford.)

(Above: The Stages of Inner Man by Jacqueline Dunford.)

(Above: The Stages of Inner Man by Jacqueline Dunford.)

This artist had signs posted all over town.  Yet, the only sign I really liked was the one explaining her work, not the ones asking for a vote.  The stages of the inner man as shown in the folded origami birds was truly lovely.

(Above: Truck in Field by Emily Miller, quilt, 52" x 93".)

I rather enjoyed the quieter pieces ... like Truck in Field.  So did lots of other people.  This was in the Jones and Carter across from my The Canopy.  People were so impressed that these individual pieces of cloth formed such a convincing and realistic image.

(Above: Truck in Field by Emily Miller, quilt, 52" x 93".)

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a great picture of it.  The lighting was just difficult at the time of day I went inside to look at the work, including mine.  Yet, HERE'S the good photo of this amazing art quilt from the Artfields site.  It was truly an honor to have work hanging near this masterpiece. 

(Above: Urban Living by Patricia Mariano, Fabric, yarn, paper, stitched on felt with acrylics, oil pastels, and India ink.)

Another piece I really liked was Urban Living by Patricia Mariano.  It was as successful using a wide variety of mixed media materials as Emily Miller's Truck in Field as using simple patchwork.  Both are wonderful compositions with superior craftsmanship!

(Above: Urban Living by Patricia Mariano, Fabric, yarn, paper, stitched on felt with acrylics, oil pastels, and India ink.)

Unfortunately, I missed a few pieces of fiber at Artfields.

(Above:  Bird Brain by Kathrine Allen-Coleman.)

I actually visited this piece twice ... but couldn't get a photo due to its placement in a front window of a bridal and formalwear shop on Main Street.  The used of old garment patterns on the dress were especially nice.

 (Above:  Kim Keats' Armor Clad Reliquary.)

I missed the installation of shoes by Benjamin Hollingsworth and Kim Keats' Armor Clad Reliquary (above).  I adore Kim's work and am sad not to have seen this work but am hoping it will be in Palmetto Hands, a juried show in which we've both had work over the years.  That's next week.

(Above:  Precious 022 by Mike Lavine.)

Steve and I saw Mike Lavine's installation of tropical wood shavings ... but couldn't get a photo of it.  It was inside a store front window.  The store was closed.  The window was dirty and the interior dark.  Yet, I saw one of his installation (in fact, the one in the photo) when he exhibited at 701 CCA here in Columbia.

(Vessel No. 362 by Lee Sipe.)

I missed Lee Sipe's piece ... but I hope it is at Palmetto Hands!  In fact, I have another week of "good art" coming up.  On Wednesday is the annual Verner Art Gala and Sale and the weekend is Palmetto Hands, a juried fine craft exhibition at the North Charleston Convention Center.  More blogging to come!

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