Subversive|Domestic: Fiber and Textiles

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A juried exhibition of contemporary Fiber works 12.2.2017-1.20.2018

Work from the Jurors

RAKU Lynn Hilton Conyers Raku and Fiber, 2017 Lyndhurst, Virginia

Work from the Jurors

Subversive|Domestic A juried exhibition of contemporary Fiber works

UNtitled Annie Layne Embroidery 2017 Waynesboro, Virginia

Exhibit presented by: Shenandoah valley art center 126 s Wayne avenue Waynesboro, VA 22980

Parodic Image of Being a Good Woman (top) Jessica Hope Whittington Iron, Tobacco Cloth, 2017 Cincinnati, Ohio

Wild creatures Jennifer Weigel Altered Book Cover, Fiber Collage, Indian Brocade Silk from Hobby Lobby after Supreme Court case, 2017

Newton, Kansas

Shenandoah Valley Art Center is a non-profit community art center seeking to increase the visibility of the visual arts in the community through creating and fostering exhibits, programs, fellowship, and economic and creative opportunities for artists of all ages and abilities.

Subversive|Domestic: Textile and Fiber To begin, a tip of the hat and a true thank you to Piper Groves and the Shenandoah Valley Arts Center for taking on a show of contemporary fiber. This community of artists has in the last generation begun finding a voice and an audience that support these endeavors, these labors of love. Some knit. Some weave, bead, embroider, crochet, most of us have at some point made someone take a second glance. All of these projects take time and dedication to see them completed. Some of us do one, or all of the above. I’m honored to identify myself as a Fiber Artist, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to jury this show. There have been events and creations that have helped form this community. From the traditions of the Quilts of Gee’s bend, to Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, through the individually threaded glass beads for Liza Lou’s larger than life size installations, the NAMES project AIDS Memorial Quilt, costume creators and historic re-enactors through the Society for Creative Anachronism, all the way to the availability of patterns full of tattoo-inspired and naughty-word kits complete with instructions and materials all available online.

First, the DOMESTIC: Within creating with fiber the process is varied based on medium, but much is rooted in the creation of necessary objects, traditionally considered to be “Women’s Work”. There has been much written about the evolution of object to fine art. I was taught to sew and embroider at age six; my mother, my aunts, and their friends all knitted, embroidered and beaded traditional Slavic garments, hemmed their own dishtowels, and altered all of our clothes to get as much use as possible from a single garment. My favorite skirt as a child was crocheted by my mother, and as I grew, she would add rows of yarn to the bottom; I wore a rainbow dirndl for about five years and excelled at running around like a rainbow nightmare.

In 1984 Rozsika Parker published the first edition of The Subversive Stitch, Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine. In a chapter titled: A Naturally Revolutionary Art? wherein her research of work with fiber quotes manuals and instructional quides from as early as 1913 that explicitly state that these skills are for both girls and boys. However the stereotype, especially, but not limited to embroidery, held fast and needlecraft was looked upon as a feminine activity. From the 1928 National Union of Women Teachers annual conference:

“The time has come for a more equal form of education for future home life, as between boys and girls, by the giving of instruction to boys in the simple elements of domestic subjects such as needlework and cookery and the girls instructions in light woodwork”

Needlework has been a vehicle in suffrage movements both in the USA and the UK. Jailed suffragettes were allowed needle and thread and developed a system of record with embroidered hankies to know who among them were incarcerated. Parade banners were hand stitched with specific images and colors that identified organizations and communities. There came a moment, a pivot, sometime in the last quarter of the 20 th century, where these once very necessary skills were repurposed into creating objects that were not only domestic items, but objects with an agenda all their own.

Big Horn Sheep (top) Cross Stitch Skull (bottom) Christy Turner Embroidery on Vintage Fabric; Cross Stitch, 2017 Corvalis, Oregon

Next, the SUBVERSIVE: So much of the work in this show speaks to cultural issues; body image, gender roles, commercial notions of beauty, the power of women’s bodies, sexuality, survival, and fantasy. Objects traditionally made by women are now part of the narrative about what it means to be a woman. These objects, images and words about desire, humor, danger, experience, violence, and love, and the consequences of each provide a voice for the creator.

Though being taught to sew and crochet as a child it wasn’t until 2001 that I began to find a voice, begin to earnestly create, and in turn find a community of people- many women, and refreshingly, many men, who like me wanted to participate in a dialogue of like-minded creators and crafters that refused to adhere to traditional boundaries. Connecting online was essential, as those of us that gravitated to non-traditional subject matter validated the use of very old technique to create edgy, offensive, pornographic, funny, and often, uplifting objects. Many have been temporarily banned from social media, have had difficulty explaining ourselves at the local craft gathering, or left out of fine art exhibitions as fiber sometimes doesn’t fit the atheistic of ‘fine arts’.

These early interactions created a community that uplifts people who ask for help, who want to show work in a non-judgmental space. Sometimes, you really can’t show Grandma the pillow with the word ‘whore’ embroidered and decorated with ribbons, no matter how delicate the execution, and that she taught you to sew when you were eight. An image went vial just before the 2017 Women’s March on Washington: embroidery on red fabric, held in a 20’ quit hoop that in large black letters read: I Am So Angry I Stitched This Just So I Could Stab Something 3000 Times.

This media can be an outlet while continuing to provide a connective thread to tradition and history.

The fusion of design and craft becomes vital. Fiber art does not begin with simply threading a needle. No matter the chosen medium, patterns, drawings, measurements, and planning are all vital. Quilters use precise patterns in order to properly join corners. Those that work with yarn have to very mindfully count stitches, check gauge, and finish projects.

All of us that work with fiber are aware that the media we chose can have a temperamental and changing nature based on the dyes we use, the quality of our tools, the temperature of the water, and solvents in a cleaning process and that mostly organic material can vary widely. Fiber, as a medium, demands a respect from the artist, who carries on not only technique but also narrative behind each creation. These are objects that all have a story to tell; every knitted sock, every scrap quilt, every handmade scarf has a story to tell. In some ways we are bound to tradition, but what I find exciting is the utilization of ancient technique to explore the experience we live now.

Annie Layne 2017

Bibliography and further reading: Parker, Rozsika. The Subversive Stitch Embroidery and Making of the Feminine New York: Routlege, 1989.

Begging bowls Sarah Tremaine Felted Wool, 2017 Crozet, Virginia

McQiston, Liz, Suffragettes and She-Devils, Women’s’ Liberation and Beyond, Phaidon, London, 1997 Cooks, Bridget R. Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum University of Massachusetts Press, 2011 Prain, Leanne. Strange Material, Storytelling Through Textiles. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014

Emotional eater Emily Adams Hooked Rug, 2017 Ottowa, Canada

Under the apple tree Christine Stoddard Digital Media (projected textile), 2017 Brooklyn, New York/Arlington, Virginia

Fat bottomed women Rebecca Stidam Cotton on Muslin, 2017 Lawrenceville, Georgia

De Nature Laura Allen Fabric, Metal, Thread, 2017 Crozet, Virginia

Natural instincts Shari Wolf Boraz Hand Embroidery on Artist Designed Cotton Print, 2017 Hanover, New Hampshire

In the mirror (all I see Is me) Melinda K.P. Stees Cotton Knitting, 2017 Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Get right with nature Beryl Solla Sequins, Beads, Canvas, Acrylic, 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia

The tritone (top) Joss Sticks for the 7th Ward (bottom) Denise Burge Quilts, 2017 Cincinnati, Ohio

Pussy quilt Barb Burwell Cotton and synthetic commercial fabric, cotton and synthetic thread and batting; machine pieced, machine quilted and hand-sewn; 61in x 61 in, 2017 Portland, Oregon

Phaedra (and Detail) Ellen Schinderman Cotton on Linen, 2017 Los Angeles, California

Garment: Autism Spectrum Jan Rapacz Fiber, 2017 New Brighton, Minnesota

What my mother gave me (top) Row, Row, Roe your boat (bottom) Anna Carpenter Embroidery, 2017 Pullman, Washington

Born N' Bred Beer #1 (top) Pillow Rifle #1 (bottom & cover image) Valery Jung Estabrook Upholstery fabric, polyester batting, aluminum, 2016 Upholstery fabric, polyester batting, 2016 Taos, New Mexico

In mourning: channeling Angela Davis (top) In mourning: channeling james Baldwin (left) In mourning: channeling Audre Lourde (right) Margaret Mount Fabric, Embroidery Thread, Vintage Hangars, 2017 Spokane, Washington

persist Aynex Mercado Cotton Quilt, 2017 Frederick, Maryland

teeth The Stitch Bitch Cotton Fabric, DMC and Aurifil Thread, Wooden Hoop , 2017 Westfield, New York

Well, well, well Heather M. Foster Painted Plush Assemblage, 2015 Gainesville, Georgia

Intro/outro Nancy McKeller Wool Yarn, 2017 Montgomery City, Missouri

I’m fine Katherine McClelland Felted Wool, 2017 West Springfield, Massachusetts

Untitled #1 (top) Untitled #2 (bottom) Charlotte Friese Wood, Silk, Shell, Pyrite, 2017 Wood, Silk, shell, 2017 Barboursville, Virginia

Menstruation is normal. Period. Michelle Gauthier Cross Stitch with Hand Beading, 2016 Toronto, Ontario

Braggart Victoria Marsh Embroidery on Cotton, 2017 Rockland, Maine

Gardasil (top) Milk Screen (bottom) Katrina Majkut Cross Stitch, 2017 Brooklyn, New York

Her name was heather heyer Maureen Grey Cotton Fabric, Batting, and Thread, 2017 Staunton, Virginia

I’m golden Mary Hamby Wood, Pottery, and Cedar, 2017 Charlotte, North Carolina

Long downward drift Stephanie Kozemchak Wool, Silk, Cotton, Bone and Glass Beads, Watercolor, 2016 Falls Church, Virginia

A view from the top (top) Nobody’s hero (bottom) Mary Kenyon Cotton Fabric, Thread, 2014 Fredericksburg, Virginia

Signs and omens Katie Higgins-White Cotton Fabric and Embroidery, 2016 Watertown, Massachusetts

Very bad kitties (top) Prickly heat (bottom) Maggy Rozycki Hiltner Hand Stitched Cotton and Found Embroidery Collage, 2015 Red Lodge, Montana

Knitted is memory Aidan Huntington Knitted Yarn and Rope, Ink and Graphite on Kozo Paper, 2017 West Tisbury Massachusetts

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