Monday, October 17, 2011

These Fabrics Never Looked So Good

By Jessica Penland


On September 26, the “Material Elements” exhibit opened at the Florissant Valley Contemporary Art Gallery in the Instructional Resource building.
            This new exhibit houses the work of the faculty and students from the Appalachian Center for Craft.  The center is located in Smithville, Tenn., and is a part of the Tennessee Tech University.
            The materials that the students work with are fibers, clay, metals and woods. 
Photo by Cammy Blount 
            The majority of the works that are on display currently use some sort of fibers.  Fabrics like cotton, denim, silk and polyester are some examples of the fibers that were used in the pieces.
            Although most of the pieces use fibers, they use them in different ways.  Sometimes the fibers are used in such a way that it is difficult to tell that fabric was even used.
            One such piece is Lauren Bryant’s piece of work titled, “Memory.”  From far away this piece looks like a clay sculpture of countless, tiny hands, but as you get closer you realize that those little tan hands are actually made of cloth.  Bryant dyed the cotton knit by hand and then sewed it all together. 
            Deborah Tuggle’s piece “Loves Last Gift,” is another work of art that does not seem like it is made of fabric until you get close to it.  From far away, it looks as if hundreds of red flower petals are magically suspended in air.  It almost looks as if time froze as the petals were cascading to the ground.  Upon closer inspection, you realize that the flower petals are synthetic and attached to a piece of see-through cloth.
            There are pieces that it is easy to tell that they are made from fabric whether you are near or far.  There are pieces of art that look like clothing like Melody Allen and Natalie Johnson’s pieces, and there are pieces that hang on the wall like tapestries.
            Allen’s pieces “Double-hawk” and “Stripes and Spots,” are aviator caps with a chin strap, and Johnson’s pieces “LOVE” and “SELF” are both jackets.
            Jeanne Brady, the curator of the exhibit, created one of the pieces that are reminiscent of a tapestry.  Her piece “I Am Content To Look Upon This Day,” includes four colorful panels that were hand painted on canvas.  At first your eye is drawn to all of the colors.  The autumn colors swirl together, and gives us the feeling of being in nature.  It isn’t until after you take in all of the color that you realize the words that are printed on the first panel.  Brady printed phrases like “change ALL THIS Just to be content,” on her piece of art.
            There are many more pieces to check out in the art gallery.  The exhibit is only open until October 20, so if you want your chance to see it for your self, don’t wait and miss out.  

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