Tuesday, August 15, 2017
At the State Fair 1
This is the third or fourth year that I have been asked to judge the textile entries in the Fine Arts and Crafts division of the Kentucky State Fair, and yesterday was my day to do the deed. I'm not going to reveal who got the ribbons until later in the week, since the Fair doesn't officially open till Thursday, but I do have some thoughts to share.
One of the five textile categories is for "Traditional Textile Techniques, Non-Textile Materials." It's a category that every year I think should bring forth exciting and exotic works of art, and every year doesn't. No different this year.
When I contemplate this category I think of many memorable artworks that I've seen in other shows; here are several from the Surface Design Association show at Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center last year. The show was called "Transgressing Traditions" and a lot of the entries would have fit nicely into my category.
Eszter Bornemisza, Next Page (detail) -- X-ray films sewed into a huge, spectacular tapestry
There are a lot of fine fiber artists in our part of the world, many of whom like to enter the State Fair, and I don't know why there's this blank spot when it comes to non-textile materials.
Perhaps it's simply because fiber artists love working with fibers -- drawn to the material rather than to the technique. Using one's knitting skills, say, with wire instead of yarn, may seem too conceptual or arid. (Also it may hurt the hands.)
But I'd still love to see more work like this, to push the boundaries of what we think of as fiber art, to be a little more edgy, to take a few more risks. Maybe next year.
What do you think?