Friday, March 20, 2020

"Fiber art" at the Indianapolis Museum 2

More work from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  For discussion: Is it fiber art?

Michelle Grabner, Granny Square Afghan, detail below

No, it's not an afghan, it's a painting, in shiny enamel.  Shall we call this "fiber art" or "art about fiber"?

Fred Sandback, Untitled, detail below

It's four lengths of bright warm red acrylic yarn stretched between the corner of the room and a spot on the floor.  The wall sign says it "intersects the space it occupies, creating a geometric form that deftly defines pictorial planes and architectural volumes."  It also says that the placement in front of a window was deliberate, although I thought the red line was hard to see against the outdoors, and would have liked it better against plain walls.  Is this fiber art, or not?  Although it's 99% fiber, I say not.

Alyson Shotz, Wave Equation, detail below

A whole lot of piano wire, strung tight with silver glass beads between circular hoops.  I could almost get my camera to focus on the longest bugle beads, but there were also beads in different sizes.  A really ethereal installation, mysterious in how she got the wires to defy gravity and swoop upward to the bottom hoops.

Is it fiber art?  There are several beaders in my local fiber and textile art group, and beading falls in our definition of fiber art, but I don't feel entirely comfortable calling this beautiful piece "fiber art."  I can't tell you exactly why not.

Finally, here's one of my top three living artists; I was delighted to find not one but two of his works on display.  But only one of the three about which you can ask, is it fiber art?

El Anatsui, Duvor (communal cloth), details below

Understand that this piece is 13 feet tall, 17 feet wide -- that's a lot of metal liquor bottle caps and labels wired together.  Everyone who sees it, visitors and critics alike, uses fabric metaphors to describe how Anatsui's works drape and billow; even the title of this piece references cloth.

But it's metal.

So is this fiber art?  I want to say yes, because I want to be as much like this guy as I possibly can, and if I say he makes fiber art, and I make fiber art, then we're practically siblings, right?

What do you think, about Anatsui or any of the others in these posts?


  1. In my mind, fiber art USES fiber to make art. These pieces definitely reference fiber and are inspired by fiber but they are not fiber art. Probably fit in well with the theme, but not fiber art, in my opinion.

  2. Paraphrasing Clara Peller - "WHERE'S THE FIBER?!"

  3. Maybe it’s just (!) art? Interesting question though. We had similar discussions about last year’s Fiber Art XI show here, at Sebastopol Center for the Arts. One piece was made of makeup sponges. Others metal, paper, glass. All art, but not all fiber art in my opinion.