"The engineering in this piece ..." Jana Seely began.
“ is phenomenal,” Lucie Ryan finished, as they admired coiled basketry by Peggy Wiedemann.
A sculptural basket that cannot hold a sourdough roll, ball of yarn or even a paperclip is just one of the surprises waiting at the “Entanglement: Current Considerations in Fiber” show at Cambria Center for the Arts Gallery.
Ryan, the gallery director, sent me an email invite with a few photos, one of which showed Sharon Seale’s “Pink Vessel.” I recognized the small, soft sculpture as needle-felted wool and realized I’d have to invite Seely to see the show with me. Seely, a Cambria sculptor, takes a piece of felt and stabs it thousands of times with a sharp, barbed needle to “form a versatile and cooperative material that can be coerced into almost any shape,” as she puts it.
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While fiber art can certainly refer to quilts, it turns out it can be so much more. In fact, quilts can be so much more. Ryan said members of the Allied Arts Association in Cambria love fiber so this show was a natural fit, but she wanted to go beyond crafts and get into conceptual.
Ryan searched statewide for the 14 featured artists in the show. Six are local and the rest tend to be from Southern California or the Bay Area. Additional artists also have work in the show. The piece I got most excited about is by Lydia Hall. Her felted wool “Intake” looks like a love story between a gramophone horn and an octopus.
Some of the pieces include repurposed items. Emily Dvorin uses cable ties and other plastics to make “transordinary vessels.” Julie Kornblum’s “Plastic in Trees” co-mingles woven fiber with plastic bags for a wall hanging. She also has 3-D work using the coiled basketry technique featuring odds and ends from bottle caps to hubcaps.
Judy Schuster of Cambria weaves beads to make portraits. I saw Salvador Dali in one of the six panels in “The Watchers.” Carrie Ann Burckle’s sticks wound with thread and treated with wax were another surprise. As Ryan’s news release pointed out, “This is not your mother’s fiber show!”
Ryan hopes to make the fiber show an annual event and is already forming a committee to plan special programs for next year.
A stop at the gallery would make a great addition to a Cambria day trip. You can also check out Jana Seely’s needle-felted wool banshees, jackalopes and such at Ball & Skein & More through Sept. 3.
Contact freelance writer Monica Fiscalini at Monica_Jane2000@yahoo.com.