Sunday, July 10, 2016

By A Thread, part 3

It has taken me a while to get to this, the final post about the wonderful fiber exhibit,  By A Thread, curated by Nancy Moore that was at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, Ridgefield, Connecticut. The ending of the exhibition corresponded with the end of the school year, thus the delay.

In the process of photographing By A Thread, I began in gallery 1 and worked my way through to gallery 3. As with galleries 1 and 2, there were works that I was unable to get a good shot of, mostly due to too many lights reflecting on the glass. In a few cases, blurry photos were unknowingly snapped. My apology to those artists.



Nancy Moore, Blanket Statement III
Blanket Statement III

Nancy Moore, Blanket Statement III detail

Nancy Moore, Blanket Statement III detail

Gender has its own language, often expressed through color. I often think about how we use color to "label" our babies with blue and pink--their clothing, the walls of their nurseries--so that people won't mistake them for the "wrong" gender. Gender is a continuum, and many people float between labels with vastly varying degrees of comfort and acceptance (of themselves and by others). This third in a series of "Blanket Statements" uses colors that are routinely designated as "gender-neutral."

This blanket conveys a message from a mother, whispered to the child who lies beneath it. It's a statement of unconditional love, a plea to parents to accept their children no matter how far they may swim from the mainstream.

As the mother of a transgender son, I've often wondered at how sure I was that I was bringing home a daughter from the hospital 31 years ago. Sean knew who he was all along, and when he cast off his security blanket at age 15, he let us all know. He's been an able and patient teacher, and this blanket is a love letter to him and to all people who struggle. I've chosen a soft medium to talk about a hard subject. I want to spread out lots of blankets and have lots of conversations on them. Can we talk?  Nancy Moore


Amy Bilden, Confrontation
inherited thread,
grandmother's shoes

Amy Bilden, Confrontation, detail

Inheritance of emotional significance, rather than monetary value, prompts the artwork of Confrontation and also Stockings (shown elsewhere in these galleries). I intentionally signify thresholds in my own life by creating specific works of art. Each piece begins with a transitional event and materializes through process. In several works the installation is significant as the inherited materials are slowly depleted. 

This body of work is my own reconciliation of the passing of a matriarch, child rearing, and questioning my assembled expectations of womanhood. Amy Bilden


Liz Alpert Fay, Pocket Full of Change
Pocket Full of Change
wool, pearl cotton thread,

Liz Alpert Fay, Pocket Full of Change, detail

The Victorian era was a time of great ornamentation. Women decorated their homes by creating "penny rugs," small decorative coverings for tabletops and trunks. The name was derived from the small circular pieces of wool that were created by tracing around pennies. These were then cut out and stitched down to a backing material. The use of a decorative buttonhole stitch further enhanced the design.

The title, Pocket Full of Change, is a play on words. Along with the traditional-sized penny shape, I've incorporated circles of various sizes, some of these reminiscent of other coins. The title also signifies my continued desire to take traditional textile techniques and alter them so they may be used in more contemporary ways. 

Here, although I've adhered to the traditional use of wool and thread, I've created a piece that is much larger and more abstract in design than those of the past. I've also developed a variation on the traditional stitching technique that I feel is an improvement. My use of both recycled clothing and new hand-dyed wools is a nod to the past and an embrace of the future.  Liz Alpert Fay

Francine Even, Recycled
fabric & yarn scraps,
old clothing

Francine Even, Recycled, detail

 Arlé Sklar-Weinstein, Rainbow Vines: Tropical
Rainbow Vines: Tropical
sculptural wrapped fiber

Arlé Sklar-Weinstein, Rainbow Vines: Tropical, detail

Arlé Sklar-Weinstein, Rainbow Vines: Tropical, detail

Francine Even, Freedom

anything goes

Francine Even, Freedom, detail

In 1968, at age 50, Misao Jo founded a weaving program in Japan based on Zen teachings. Saori is essentially Zen weaving: The "SA" of Saori comes from the word "sai," which in Zen vocabulary means everything has its own individual dignity. "Ori" means weaving in Japanese.

Saori has no rules, no patterns to follow. No two weavings are alike, as no two people are alike. Colors unfold, designs emerge, and beauty blooms directly from the creativityof each unique individual working in harmony with the loom, materials, and spark of the moment, irregular edges, loose threads, and the accidental skipping of threads only add to the beauty of saori, which is dedicated to self-discovery. It is a profound inner journey, yet we can also enjoy it socially by working alongside others to share and be inspired by the infinite possibilities that surround us. 

Saori weaving has broken the chains that tied me to the traditional techniques of weaving and unleashed a new form of creative expression I didn't know I had in me. It has freed me. Hence, the title of this piece, my first saori weaving, is call Freedom.  Francine Even

Meg Bloom, Ruby Beach (top), Acantha

Meg Bloom
Ruby Beach (top)
handmade paper (abaca & flax fibers),
covered wire, stains

handmade papers (abaca & flax fibers),
silk, wax, pigment, covered wire

Meg Bloom, Ruby Beach, detail

Finding beauty in the imperfect or impermanent, acknowledging moments of change, and engaging with the process of transformation often form the basis of my work. My process is guided by the mix of planning and chance that the materials I use offer to the imagery. I find paper-making to be a transformative process, where I start with pulp and work my way to a cohesive three-dimensional form. The process involves a breaking down and reassembling or re-visioning of both the materials and my own visual memories. 

In this work specifically (and almost always), nature is a reference, but the pieces are also an assemblage of memories and mixed metaphors that reflect both my internal and external experience.  Meg Bloom

Jeanine Esposito, Caught

flax, abaca (paper fibers)

Jeanine Esposito, Caught, detail

In my relentless pursuit of the "truth" and our ambivalent relationship with it, I'm struck by how the act of withholding, manipulating, or denying the truth has such a deep impact on us psychologically, physically, and emotionally. With this piece, I explore the duality of being found out, or fearing being found out--telling a lie, withholding the truth, or keeping a secret. As I often do with my art, I wanted to show both the dark side--the feelings of dread, discomfort, fear, and shame--combined with the light--the relief of being able to live in truth, a lightening of the burden of carrying the untruth. I feel both of these elements in this one piece.

I made this work with two naturals: bleached abaca and unbleached flax, which were beaten for several hours and then formed over an armature that I created. the long beating time of the fibers and my pulling very this sheets of paper resulted in this very strong yet translucent and delicate-looking material.  Jeanine Esposito


Lori Glavin, The Book I Read

The Book I Read
thread, canvas, linen, vintage
book parts, embroidery floss, 

Lori Glavin, The Book I Read, detail

I grew up in Upstate New York in the 1960s-70s. It was part of my "after school" education to try different things--girl scouts, tennis lessons, art classes at the local museum, gardening, knitting--the list was varied and long. My mother made a lot of her own clothes, so when a seamstress moved in across the street, sewing classes were added to the list. My sewing teacher, Mrs. Rickstein, was a German immigrant who worked out of her basement and taught me the basics. She was a stickler for sewing "the right way." I still remember with pride the buttonholes running down the front of a purple plaid midi skirt I made circa 1972. The varied influences in my life continue to show up in unexpected ways in my art-making. Primarily a painter, I have always stitched, knitted, and sewn "on the side." Now thread, fabric, and the sewn line are appearing in my artwork.  Lori Glavin


Linda Rae Coughlin, Fly Oh Fly

Fly Oh Fly
hand-dyed recycled fabric,
linen, handmade felt, beads,

Linda Rae Coughlin, Fly Oh Fly, detail

Linda Rae Coughlin, Fly Oh Fly, detail

Acceptance and rejection are always part of the life of an artist when she chooses to exhibit her work. Fly Oh Fly was inspired by a verbal invitation I got to be a part of an exhibit a few years back. But when I submitted my work for the exhibit I was rejected and told that it did not fit in. To say the least, I was confused by what had transpired. The good news was that this rejection was one of those defining moments in my life when I decided to fly away from the flock and do my own thing without ever looking back. I was never again going to be defined by what someone else said or thought about me or my art. The design for Fly Oh Fly came out of me that very day I received the letter of rejection. It came from a place that was bigger than I could ever explain or define. For whatever reason, the exhibit was canceled, but to this day I am forever grateful for the life lessons it gave me and the part it played in bringing this piece into the world.  Linda Rae Coughlin


Steven Needham, ShakeyOne (top), George (middle), Ben (bottom)

Steven Needham
ShakeyOne (top)
cotton thread

George (middle)
cotton thread

Ben (botton)
cotton thread

Steven Needham, George detail

Steven Needham, George detail

I'm occasionally asked if I consider myself a textile artist, a label I resist--alongside "women" artists, "African American" artists, and "West Coast" writers, etc. "It must be relaxing/tedious" is another comment I often hear when people see me working. Making art is energizing, not enervating, and life the story of the tap-dancing poodle, it's less about the "how" and more about the "why." 
Steven Needham


Heidi Lewis Coleman, Iyatiku

mixed media assemblage 
on canvas

Heidi Lewis Coleman, Iyatiku, detail


June Myles, Ants Never Bend Their Course Far from the Granary

June Myles
Ants Never Bend Their Course Far from the Granary

June Myles, Ants Never Bend Their Course Far from the Granary, detail

June Myles, Ants Never Bend Their Course Far from the Granary, detail

I've been a docent at the Museum of Natural History in NYC for 30 years. I love animals, bugs--all things natural, actually! Ditto primitive art and proverbs. Hooking some of the earth's more unusual creatures tickles my fancy. The idea of ants navigating inside an anteater amused me, and the bushy tail extending outside the box made for even more humor.  June Myles


Shiela Hale, Ladders for Larry

Ladders for Larry
linen and cotton thread;
pine; branches, twigs, stems

Shiela Hale, Ladders for Larry, detail

Shiela Hale, Ladders for Larry, detail

My husband loved to give me tools, and I loved receiving them. He gave me hammers and saws, vice grips and pliers; sharp chisels, planes, rasps, and files; clamps, mallets, pry bars. He gave me odd things like fly-tying kits that he knew I would put to some use. Each thing was special in some way: beautifully crafted, made of some unusual material, the finest of its kind. Possibly my favroite is a lashing he taught me to tie for binding two pieces of wood together at a right angle. I used that tool to build ladders and a table in the forest in Finland. String in your pocket, a method in your head--you could build the world with such a tool. I have made these ladders to honor the tool and the gift. 
Shiela Hale


Christopher Perry, 142 Ripples: Steam

Christopher Perry 
142 Ripples: Steam
paper, fabric, gel acetate

Christopher Perry, 142 Ripples: Steam, detail

Christopher Perry, 142 Ripples: Steam

Sometimes I just want, need, to cut paper; to make lots and lots of tiny spikes and longer "feelers" or "fingers"; to make something that I really like to touch when the piece is finished; to create an interior filled with these tiny spikes, an interior that I cannot touch but want to; an outside that makes it difficult to handle and package the piece. Sometimes, I just want to cut paper and cut paper and cut paper. 

This piece consists of 41,580 individual cuts I make with an Exacto knife over three weeks.     Christopher Perry


Francine Even, Installation

linen, silk, yarn, waxed linen,
raffia, twine


  1. I'm smitten with Lori Glavin's mixed media art!!! Thank you for sharing this exhibition with us.

  2. Love Christopher Perry's statement. "Sometimes I just want to cut paper and cut paper and cut paper." Yep! I have my own "sometimes I just want to's" too. :-)

    Thanks for posting, so great to read the statements and see the work again.

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to post the photos, details, and artist statements. Fabulous show, fabulous post!

  4. Wow spectacular work. Lucky you. xox

  5. Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to carefully show each artist's work. I feel as if I went. It looks to be a wonderful exhibition. x


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