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Speaking of Fiber pulls strings in the St. Louis community

Pondering the Apple is by Janet Wade

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Honoring the tradition of a long-well-regarded craft as well as the innovation of the present, the Speaking of Fibers exhibit coming to the Saint Louis University Museum of Art features more than 40 works from members of the Missouri Fiber Artists Organization.

The artists include weavers, basket makers, spinners, knitters, quilters, paper makers, and surface designers that use fiber or fiber techniques in new and exciting ways. The fiber can be natural or synthetic.

One artist, Jennifer Weigel, began professionally working with fiber art in 1996.

She says, “One of the biggest strengths of Speaking of Fibers is being able to see works from across the spectrum of fiber art. I hope audiences will enjoy how many different media, techniques and processes have come out of fiber art.”

Weigel’s piece in the exhibit, “Cattiness” incorporates found handkerchiefs with added embellishments, which she says, “explores gender identity and how women relate to each other. I enjoy reappropriating found objects in much of my work.”

Since 1978, the Missouri Fiber Artists have celebrated fiber arts through a quarterly newsletter and bi-annual conference, along with a retreat and regular membership exhibits.

Another artist, Rosemary Claus-Gray had a very natural progression into fiber art.

“Over the years, I’ve dabbled in crewel embroidery, quilting, told painting, photography and making clothes and gifts for my family,” she says. “About 1995, people began to tell me that I was creating art. Who, me?”

After a 30-year career as a professional therapist, Claus-Gray is no stranger to traumatic and difficult experiences. She says, “Fiber art combined my love of texture, color and design, balancing my need for personal healing from the emotionally intense work I was doing.”

Her pieces in the exhibit “Meditation” and “Urban Fireworks” were both created during a time of personal healing. She says, “Each of them helped me cope with the burdens on my mind, and helped me express the feelings I was experiencing, while finding peace of mind.”

This Missouri Fiber Artists exhibition was juried by Janice Nesser-Chu. Chu, an educator, mixed-media artist and an activist in the arts community has dedicated her lifes work to promoting social activism, education, mentorship and encouragement of women in the arts.

“Speaking of Fiber explores the execution of both traditional and innovative materials, Nesser-Chu said in the press release. “The artistry engages the viewer, while showcasing the talents and diverse perspectives that comprise a community of artists.”

The exhibit will open at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art Friday Aug. 23 and continue until Oct. 6.

Missouri Fiber Artists (MoFA) is a non-for-profit organization whose purpose is to promote statewide communication among individuals and groups participating in all aspects of the fiber arts.

A reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 27 from 5-8 p.m.

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