New Generations / New Explorations

Connective Threads provides a window into what is currently engaging fiber and multidisciplinary artists, even as these disciplines continue to evolve and change. Emanating from artists’ studios in Southern California, the exhibition offers unique perspectives on the complicated identities of fiber art as a genre, with the exclusion of quilting, which is a separate category, not included in this presentation. Fiber artists can formally exploit the medium’s connections to pattern, color, shape, and texture. Multilayered content can also be woven into its structure through abstract, representational, or narrative strategies. The works on view encompass a rich diversity of influences and inspirations, independent from conventional expectations. Collectively they offer a penetrating examination of fiber’s possibilities.

Grounded in the tactile quality of the materials they use, and the allure of the handmade, the artists in this exhibition embrace the use of fiber, thread, cloth, and other materials coupled with techniques that are repetitive, sequential, and rhythmical. This unique combination allows them to explore associations with their own lives, memories, experiences, and interests while embracing the freedom of expression that materials and methods associated with thread and cloth give them. Textiles are close to the body, involve the labor of the hand in the making, and therefore can feel empathetic, animate, and alive. Human beings possess a profound physical and psychological need to experience touch—textiles and their associated processes allow for that intimate, physical connection.

Following the vanguard artists of the 1960s, succeeding generations of fiber artists have re-examined traditional processes through an exploratory approach. Their investigations center on a rejection of the utilitarian rectilinearity and two-dimensionality of the flat-woven textiles associated with the textile industry. The contemporary fiber artist understands the potential of the medium to push structural and aesthetic boundaries and claims the territory of art while maintaining a deep appreciation of the history of textile construction.

As with every generation, artists investigate issues relevant to their own time. Concerns of identity, race, gender fluidity, colonialism, capitalism, immigration, and ecology are among the themes that have currency today. The variety of materials and methods utilized within the broadly divergent practices of fiber and multi-disciplinary artists empower them to be both reflective and inventive, referencing and expanding upon tradition and innovating methodologies to best express their intentions. Drawing from the past but heavily invested in the NOW, the future of fiber art is in the making.

Return to Connective Threads HERE.