Ask any Philadelphian and they will tell you that their town has no lack of artistic presence. Traditional staples such as the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art and the soon to open Barnes Foundation give us old school art cred. Add in the countless murals and the seemingly endless list of local art schools brimming with fresh minds, and you have a city that’s got a little something for everyone.
This brings us to the upcoming FiberPhiladelphia, an international biennial which will be taking over forty of the city’s museums, galleries and other art inhabited spaces. This is a multi-month event which will open on Friday, March 2 and run through April. Over the next few months I will embark on a citywide journey, leading you through the land of the great fiber creators.
We begin our trek at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, which also just so happens to be my place of employment. I know, how convenient. There are three shows currently on display, however the one located on the second floor, A Sense of Space, is the one participating in the biennial. Curated by Bruce Hoffman, this exhibition displays the work of eight female fiber artists, all working to create a single universal idea, yet arriving at that point through incredibly varied paths. Each artist has depicted their own personal sense of tangible and/or abstract reality using both traditional and more contemporary takes on fiber materials.
Pictured below, Green Hammock was created by artist, Kee-Sook Lee with found nurse’s uniforms from the Vietnam War. The torn, green fabric and organic flow of the piece is immediately reminiscent of a jungle scene, speaking not only to the uniform’s environment of origin but also to the past experience of those nurses who were immersed within those jungles. More traditionally, Barbara Lee Smith’s Whitecaps, is a massive painted, collaged, fused and stitched, industrial textile. This 72”x144” piece has a very Rothko-esque cathartic effect with a Monet-like aesthetic. Also on display is Amy Orr’s House of Cards. Quite literally a dollhouse plastered in credit cards, Orr’s piece illustrates the consumerism that surrounds our entire lives, even in the most private and intimate spaces.
As you can see, fiber art is as diverse as the evolving Philadelphia art scene. It is an art form which has been inundated with a limitless arsenal of materials and methods. So stay tuned as I continue to explore the vast expanses of the contemporary fiber art world. Next stop, the Galleries at Moore College of Art.
Check out FiberPhiladelphia’s website for a full list of exhibitions and openings: http://www.fiberphiladelphia.org/
Written by, Sam