One of the weavers represented at the Fiberart International show was someone I actually know: Jennifer Sargent. Probably I shouldn't say that I know her. But I did take a workshop on warp ikat from her a few years back at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in North Carolina. I had read about warp ikat. But in this workshop she gave me the hands-on experience I needed in order to explore it on my own. She also gifted me with the the realization that I really could do this if and when I should decide to try.
Her piece in this show was was woven in three panels. She used thin strips for the weft. My guess is that the fabric or paper she had used for the weft had been printed and then cut up to use for weft. But she cut it up in such a way that the design of the printing emerged. And the design appeared as a whole, across all three panels. A tour de force in my book!
To read a bit about Jennifer and see some of her work, go here.
I have seen this idea of grouped woven panels used quite a bit and have never quite understood the rationale for it. I understand paired paintings such as those of Adam and Eve. I can understand the implications of painting them as separate beings. The paintings, like Adam and Eve, stand alone yet belong together.
There is no real temptation to read these panels separately. There is a middle panel which is clearly the center and then the framing side panels. The side panels is in part mirror images of each other, but only in part. It is the differences that provide the interest.
I can also understand creating an idea in panels if for some reason (such as size) that idea cannot be created in one piece. And I understand that there could then also be significance in not joining the separate pieces. The panels in Jennifer's piece could stand alone. Each panel needed the other two. Technically it was a tour de force, but otherwise I could not understand this.
There was another woven piece in the show that was presented in panels. Hillary L. Steel wove her piece in two long thin strips. Hillary's piece was very straight lined, unlike Jennifer's which produced an image of curves. And Jennifer's piece produced this image despite the clear grid created by warp and weft. At least at a distance, the power of the screen printing dominates over the power of the weaving grid.
Hillary's piece also used applique. The material for the appliques seems to have been woven from the same warp she had used for the foundation panels. And the panels were not quite identical. Close, but not quite. Indeed, it was this "not quite identical" aspect of the panels which held my attention. And it held my attention more than the "not quite identical" aspect of Jennifer's piece because I could not quite see what she was trying to do. Probably I did not look for a long enough period of time.
There was a weaver by the name of Robin L Haller who wove what to me was an extraordinarily beautful ikat piece using a computerized loom. I am extraordinarily frustrated in not being able to find out more about her. She is in her late 30's, but based on the awards and shows listed in the catalog, she was still a student in 2005 and is listed in the show catalog as currently an instructor in the School of Art Textiles at Kent Sate University in Ohio. On the Kent State faculty she is listed as adjunct faculty. In any case, I look forward to hearing more of her work in the future.
Finally, despite the fact that there was very little weaving in the show, and despite the fact that I don't care for "computer assisted jacquard" weaving, that was what won the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh (the hosting group) Best of Show. It, too, was woven in strips...... The piece was by Kelly Thompson who was born in California, but currently lives in London, England. More information, including a snippet of one of her weavings (not the weaving in Fiberart International), can be found here.
To see an example of a piece of computer assisted jacquard weaving by another weaver, go here.
As a picture I think it is fine. What I don't like is the appearance of it when seen in real life. Perhaps it is that the overall appearance is too mechanical for my taste. And I don't like the thickness of the fabric that is created. But it has become very popular. Indeed, AVL has just come out with an "affordable" jacquard loom, "affordable," of course, being a relative term! To learn about this loom, go here.