Friday, July 23, 2010

Fiber Arts International 2010

I was in Pittsburgh this week, visiting family, and happened to overlap with the Fiber Arts International 2010, held in part at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, one of my favorite places from childhood.

My mom used to send my sister and I there to take recorder lessons and lots and lots of art classes: ceramics and drawing and painting and maybe some weaving, but that I'm not sure about. I really think that sending a kid off to art class is key to turning her or him into a future artist-crafts-person: there's something special and self-esteem-building about learning to make stuff, especially stuff that involves good art supplies and color and texture and shape. I recall spending many un-air-condtitioned days in the classrooms, probably keeping myself busy during summer vacation, but also relishing the independence of walking into the building and finding my way to a table and some art stuff.

Perhaps because of my affection for the building - a large stucco mansion painted yellow and gray and nicely restored within -  and because it was hosting a fiber show, I stopped there with my father and husband - and my sister drove in to meet us - on my way to the airport yesterday. Lovely show, covering the first floor of the building, with some other permanent works on the second floor. (My apologies to the artists, but I didn't write down the names of all of the pieces.)

Here's a quilt of what looked like hand-dyed tea bags. Very clever.
And a close-up:
A piece called Scabs by Emily Barletta:
Very knee-and-elbow fibery scabs, felted and embellished and oval in shape but flattened, just like, well, scabs. Interesting.
A tapestry piece showing the evolution of time: Five Generations of Virtue by Lisa Lee Peterson.

I loved this piece, which, in person, is less photographic and more fibery:
A basket embedded with plastic ties. Hard and soft at the same time.
And my favorite: a tapestry of small pieces of fabric, with an ombre effect from top toward the bottom, more subtle in person than the picture shows.
And Pittsburgh would not be Pittsburgh if not for its many hills. Here's an on-the-fly picture of a hill, but you can find much bigger ones ringing the city. When my daughters were little, we would take them to the top of Negley Hill when visiting Pittsburgh - it's probably a 45-60 degree incline, and say: here's now this is a hill! The Midwest is sadly lacking in hills, and when I come home, I marvel at how flat and dry and yellow our landscape is, compared to the up and down and greenness of Pittsburgh.

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