Friday, March 02, 2012

Live from Philadelphia opening weekend of Fiber Philadelphia 2012

View Larger Map

Map of the area in which I spent day 1 / March 2 2012 of Fiber Philadelphia

 C. Moore Gallery 2 pm Elissa Auther Lecture: Friday, March 2, 2:30pm
20th Street and the Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103

D. Philadelphia Art Alliance,  A Sense of Place. Reception: Thurs, February 2, 5:30 - 7:30pm
251 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA
E.. Fabric Workshop and Museum opening for Mark Bradford, Jennifer Steincamp and Pae White
1214 Arch Street, Philadelphia,

F. Snyderman-Works Gallery 8th International Fiber Biennial
303 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

G. B Square Gallery Not a Stitch
614 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

A. and H. are just Hotels where I and friends are staying

Dorothy Caldwell, "how do we know its still night", 2010, 140 X 120 wax resist and silkscreen discharge, on cotton with stitching and applique part of the 8th International Fiber Biennial, at Snyderman-Works Galleries, photo Joe Lewis

This trip to Fiber Philadelphia is an interesting journey that I believe began in New York City in 1980 at the Alexis Smith exhibition U.S.A., Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, NY where there was a story of a camping trip told on the wall in drawings and text. Move forward in time to 1985 and a snow storm (may not, i just know the weather was bad). I am in a car driving from Toronto to Peterborough with the then director of Saw Gallery in Ottawa asleep in the back. Since i don't drive the american artist Chris Burden (yes that Chris Burden) is driving he had given a talk at A Space or Art Metropole, was giving one at artspace in Peterborough (when it was still renovating the Market Hall so the talk happened in David Briek's studio) While we drove across the 401 and up the 115  we chatted about different things, road trips, art architecture the different between LA and Toronto freeways. He told me about a camping trip. I had to ask...

Diane Prekup 79, Opera Jacket (Embers), 2012, fiber web construction,
 part of  Materiality
Fashion and Textile Design Alumnae Exhibition

Wilson Gallery, Moore College of Art
January 28 – March 17, 2011. photo Joe Lewis

Toronto 1998  “Changing Spaces: Artist’s Projects from the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia,”  came to the Power Plant Chris Burden's LAPD Uniforms where in this amazing mind changing exhibition. as was Renée Green's Mise-en-Scène: Commemorative Toile which is an extremely powerful work where what appears to be the standard bucolic deletes depicted on Toiles are images of rape, lynching and other images from America's slave owning history. this show brought the possibilities of Textiles to a new level of appreciation. I haven't picked up a paint brush since.

detail Danial Kornrumpf, "Focal Length", 2009, hand embroidery on linen, part of
A Circumstantial Assembly
The Levy Gallery for the Arts in Philadelphia, Moore College of Art
January 28 – March 17, 2012

Textiles in Philadelphia in both industry and education have had an interesting journey also.

Moore College of Art and Design  where the official opening: welcome and Fiber Art Proclamation
with key note lecture "Fiber in the 21st Century Art World" by:Contemporary art historian Elissa Arthur*,  takes place on March 2 has a pivotal place in that journey. Nina de Angeli Walls in "Art and Industry in Philadelphia: Origins of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women"  states "Moore College of Art and Design... Originally known as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, it began in 1848 as a charitable effort to train "needy and deserving" young women in textile and wallpaper design, wood engraving, and other salable artistic skills. During the 1850s, governance passed from the woman founder to men of the city's financial and manufacturing elite."* it was just one of many similar institutions being founded in America prior to and after the American Civil War. [You can read more about the development of these Training institutions in Makers: A History of American Studio Craft by Janet Koplos; Bruce Metcalf]

The crowd turns out for  Elissa Auther Lecture: Fiber In Art in the 21 Century Art World. Friday, March 2, 2:30pm
Moore  College 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Bruce Hoffman Curatorial consultant for Outside/Inside the Box and Fiber Philadelphia 2012 surround by the crowd after Opening remarks, that included Philadelphia Mayor Micheal Nutter proclaiming March "Fiber Month" in Philadelphia. An independent curator, Hoffman lectures on the decorative arts with a focus on contemporary textile and fiber art. The former Director of the Snyderman-Works Gallery, Bruce Hoffman was instrumental in creating the International Fiber Biennial
"Philadelphia University was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School in the wake of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. A group of textile manufacturers, led by Theodore Search, noticed a sizable gap between the quality and variety of American textile products and those displayed by European mills. To address this, the group established the School to educate America’s textile workers and managers." from the university's web site 

Margaritta Cabrea , Slow Cooker, 14" X 10" X 8" Vinyl, thread, glass lid and electrical wire 2003,
part of  the 8th International Fiber Biennial, at Snyderman-Works Galleries, photo Joe Lewis
 In her lecture Elissa Auther brought up an number of makers whose practices have a political motive/ thrust behind them. Several pieces of one such makers work could be seen at Snyderman -Works .Margaritta Cabrea whose re -creations of objects manufacture in the free Trade zones "Maquiladora" on the Mexican Texas boarder are contentious and possibly cute and silly, if their story comes across with out explanation I am not sure, but what i am sure of is that Ellisa Auther has the need to justify what I heard in her talk as a new curiosity and respect for fiber on its own terms, which are complicated, multifaceted and  function out side and independent of the fine/High/ contemporary Art/Craft worlds while holding a place them. An interesting dilemma should be interest to watch, or rather read. [yes i reviewed a lecture]


Around the corner from Snydermann-Works Galleries i spotted the work of  Diane Litten, Artist in residency at Old City Jewish Arts Center  Philadelphia

There is virtual "Fabric Museum"  which was a 2003 project by Michele Winitsky Palmer who explains "“At first I wanted to create a bricks and mortar museum, It would be on Philadelphia's Fabric Row, where my father had a retail and wholesale fabric business.” on it you will find "The Fabric of Our Lives: A History of Philadelphia's South Fourth Street " by Michele Winitsky Palmer. This story looks at the lives of Jewish immigrants " who settled there around the turn of the twentieth century were tailors or seamstresses. Working long hours in sweatshops, they produced the clothing that made Philadelphia the leading men's apparel manufacturer in the world." [This site also has a great little exhibition "Cowboys and Boomerangs:Fabrics of the Fabulous 50s" it is just fun.]

in the stair well going into the basement level galleries hangs a selection work by Lucy Arai, 2011.10: Aizome (Indigo) Shadows Of Tradition, 72"x 38", Indigo, Japanese handmade paper (washi), 20118th International Fiber Biennial, at Snyderman-Works Galleries, photo Joe Lewis

Fiber Philadelphia has been happening for 20 years and has grown in size and scope in that time period to where this years events / exhibitions are happening in 40 venues.

"Unlike the other major craft media, textile artists have the freedom of transcending materials, unbound from tradition. Although many choose to continue to work with historic materials and methods, many have branched out to explore the infinite possibilities of materials and techniques. One can weave metal, clay, even light. Quilts are not necessarily bound by thread or cloth and vessels can be more than objects to contain physical matter; they can reject functionality and explore conceptual notions of spiritual and metaphysical containment." from website

You can read about the 2008 edition in previous fQaroundtown January 25, 2012 blog posting  Fiber PHILADELPHIA / The Other Philadelphia Story: A Prequel

And we are off and running.....


*Elissa Arthur: Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory, Art History Program Director at  the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.


You can read my review of her book  String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2009 in fQ Volume 6 Issue 2 Summer 2010 ( there is no joy in mudville) String Felt Thread

**The article was originally published in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Volume CXVII, No. 3 (July 1993), pp. 177-199. a re-keyed version can be found on line at  Traditional Fine Arts Organization's website

Read my review of  Makers: A History of American Studio Craft by Janet Koplos; Bruce Metcalfin fQ Volume 7 Issue 1 Spring 2011

1 comment:

kpannepacker said...

great coverage of the fabulous goings-on here for FiberPhiladelphia!!
I'm installing my exhibition on Monday..."Shagging" new textile works ...
at the William Way 1315 Spruce Street... come on by for behind the scenes action!! (10:30a.m-on)
opens on Friday, 6-8p.m
have a wonderful day- maybe I'll get a chance to meet you at the Crane tonight

Kathryn Pannepacker