Fiberart International 2007 Explores Works That Evokes the Past and Future

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Currently on display at two locations -- the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Society for Contemporary Craft -- "Fiberart International 2007" features a record-breaking 93 artworks made of, or associated with, fiber.

As visitors will see, the artists who created these works employed an astonishing variety of techniques and materials, sometimes in a single work.

Many combined traditional procedures such as stitching, quilting or weaving with rusting, photocopying, heat transfer and even burning. And the materials included range from wool, linen and silk to silver wire, even rabbit-skin glue and rubber bands.

The reason for such wide-ranging examples, says Janet Bass, who co-chaired the exhibition along with Patty Murphy, is that more artists who are working in the field these days come from different disciplines and are getting into the mix more than ever before.

"More and more fine artists are using fabric and moving into fiber art in one way or another, because it allows them to do some things that they cannot do in any other way," Bass says. And, she says, conversely, each artist brings certain qualities to their works that only serve to add to their fiber-based pieces.

She points to Philadelphia artist Mi-Kyoung Lee's untitled, oval- shaped wall installation as a perfect example. Comprised of rubber bands and nails, there's no fiber-type material in it at all, yet its forms a woven-like surface on the wall. Thus, referencing fiber and therefore qualifying as a legitimate entry in the exhibition.

Likewise "Wall of Vessels" by Joan Webster-Vore of Hudson, Iowa, technically doesn't have fiber either, unless you count the pulp contained in the handmade paper she used to make the little baskets that look like boats nesting on twigs that are installed 6 inches from one wall, creating a delightful interplay of shadow and light.

"This falls into our category," Bass says of Webster-Vore's piece. "Baskets actually fall into our category because they are made of flexible materials that are woven."

Of course, this is a fiber-art show after all, and many traditional type works abound that are sure to amaze. One of them is most definitely "Kajo -- Shimmer," a vibrant weaving made of wool, cotton, linen and silk by Ariadna Donner, of Finland, that looks like it's shimmering as one stands in front of it.

Another is Kathryn Walter's "Frieze #1" which is a three- dimensional frieze made of gray industrial felt that the Toronto artist cut and hand built into repeated forms. It's a standout among many other felt works that are pretty amazing in themselves, such as Seattle artist Timea Tihanyi's 4-foot high "Andrea's Tree," which replicates the aptly named part of the human circulatory system in deep red synthetic felt.

More than 1,500 entries were received from all over the world by 609 artists. Bass says that of the artists included in the exhibition, a third of them reside outside the United States. …