Intoxicating Textiles

Vibrant Colors, Bold Patterns

One of the oldest media in the world, textile art is often defined by the pattern and color of the fibers and threads used to create it. This constant remains true whether those “fibers and threads” are made of polyester, cotton, silk, viscose, glass, silicone, silver or gold. Earlier this year, Cambridge, MA Mobilia Gallery invited artists to redefine the possibilities of textile art the outcome is the gorgeous exhibit, Intoxicating Textiles: Vibrant Colors, Bold Patterns, which explores pattern and color, textural quality of the fiber and threads.

Included in the show is Joanne Haywood’s vintage flax necklaces (Midsommarstang Necklace and SmaGodorna Necklace). Haywood, a mixed media art jeweler, teacher and writer, incorporates both traditional jewelery, metalsmithing and textiles techniques in her pieces alongside innovative and personal processes developed through years of material explorations and “playing”. Each piece of work dictates the materials and processes used, including metals, textiles, wood, found objects and crochet, stitch, binding, felting, fusing, oxidizing, wirework, painting and forming. “I am inspired by everything in the world around me. Many things filter into my thinking and working, including the properties of materials, museum artifacts, folklore, archaeological finds, flora and fauna, fossils, folk art, old textiles and costumes, female pioneers and trailblazers. I am also inspired by non visual sources such as stories and music.”

Louise Saxtons’s Sky Jewels 2016 (inspired by John James Audubon 1833), takes discarded needlework and delicate lace pins to reinterpret several hummingbirds first painted by Audubon in the 1800’s and included in The Birds of America copperplate engravings in 1833 and 1838. Saxton explaines she chose the hummingbirds as a subject for this exhibition with Mobilia Gallery “because the birds are a living form of jewelry – their iridescent feathers glimmering in the sunshine as they dart from flower to flower in search of nectar. The title Sky Jewels is in reference to John James Audubon who thought of hummingbirds as “jewels of the sky.”

The vintage and antique needlework was collected from thrift shops and flea markets in Australia and during her travels abroad. “By reinterpreting historical imagery, my work seeks to draw a link between the domesti archive of the home, where these materials were once treasured, and the public archive of the museum and library, where many natural history paintings are housed. My dedication to reclaimed textiles as a primary art material over the past decade reflects my concern for disappearing domesticart traditions and, for the vulnerability of species in the natural world.”

Mary Merkel-Hess (Enfold) describes her process starting out with an image that can be abstract--a line or color, or the quality of a landscape. She write about the inspiration behind the work, “Any inspiration I get, I usually feel has to result in more than one piece. Because a life of constant creativity, you can’t afford to pass up any good ideas. And then I usually go and make a scale drawing of the mold I’m going to build, or of the basket as I want it to be, or both. And sometimes I’ll have an inspiration for a long time without being able to think how to make the shape. So I have a notebook where I keep these things. And then I build the mold. Then I make layer upon layer of paper with these inclusions of reed or cord or whatever, and build it up. Eventually it comes off the mold, and then it needs to be shaped and painted. And I go through periods of using lots of color and then using no color and just concentrating on the form.”

Inspired by the American West, Jeanette Ahlgren (Woven Glass Structures) weaves colorful glass beand into vessels. Patterns are inspired by western landscapes and Native American textiles. According to the artist, the presence of low-intensity colors in the Theory of Life forces the viewer to look at the bright colors. Ahlgren applies a method she calls the random dot bleed pattern that allows her to create pieces with an air-brushed effect.

For over 40 years, mixed medium artist Andrea V. Uravitch has been exploring nature themes in her scupltures. She mixes fiber, fabric, clay and silk-screened paper with weoded steel armatures. The piece she created for Intoxicating Textiles was inspired by flying dragon lizards. She writes, “They caught my fancy because they are colorful, have great pattern and seem a little strange….I like to make my lizards and insects bigger than life because it forces people to think about them. The link between humanity, the visual arts, science, and the environment is important to me.”

Other artists in the exhibit include Ellen Moon, Warren Seelig, Donna Marder, and Felieke van der Leest. Intoxicating Textiles will run through August 15th.

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