By Polly Keary, Editor
Think fabric art is just quilts and batik? Or think that a slinky can’t be considered a fiber? A new gallery exhibit at Monroe’s Art Merchant International gallery will have you rethinking textile.
“Wild,” a collection of 35 works of art, is a loan from the California Fiber Artists. The eclectic
collection came about as the result of a visit that two of the artists made to the small gallery located in the Fryelands.
“Toward the end of last year a couple of California fiber artists were vacationing here and they found the gallery,” said Leonie Saaski, who with her husband, Elrich, owns and curates the gallery which occupies half of a building that also contains their business, Research International. “They said that we should put a show on.”
The artists made good on their suggestion. When they returned to California, they arranged for a collection to be created especially for the exhibit in Monroe.
“All of their group were tasked with coming up with something, and they juried it,” said Saaski.
The California Fiber Artists is a small group of people who use fiber and other media to develop images.
The definition of fiber can be somewhat elastic; among the works on display is a basket entitled “Spun,” created of uncoiled Slinky and black zip ties.
The artists also take the use of fabric to unusual lengths. A work called “Down Under” is an undersea collage constructed on a small elaborate quilt, with a bas relief of felted flowers and seaweed.
The works can utilize some heritage arts in new ways; a work of embroidery called “Snakeskin” looks more like a rainbow-hued photograph of the skin of some exotic reptile until closer inspection reveals the stitching.
Fiber art lends itself to a variety of disciplines, too; works can be sculptures or functional arts as easily as traditional wall-mounted pieces.
For Saaski, whose art collection includes many works of aboriginal art from her native Australia along with many pieces of mixed media, sculpture, paintings and photographs by local artists, fiber art is a new experience.
“This is been interesting, to branch out into another medium I wasn’t aware of,” she said. “I thought of fiber art as quilts and this is a whole lot more than that. It’s another genre of creativity.”
The collection will be on display through May 31.
The Saaski Gallery is located at 17161 Beaton Rd. S.E. in the Research International building. For directions and more information, visit http://www.saaskigallery.com or call (360) 794-7844.
Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The doors are kept locked during the day; ring for entrance. Admittance is free.