On view until March 25, 2012 is Thread of Life at the Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University, Tallahassee. Featuring the pioneers of textile art who reclaimed craft media as fine art beginning during second-wave feminism, as well as younger conceptual artists, the exhibition presents “works that address civil rights and imprisonment, the sweat shops, natural disasters and man-made ones, and the human narrative from birth to poetic elegy,” according to the exhibition catalog.
Mary Edna found her niche outside of the fine arts world early on. Although painterly with an abstraction of landscape that embodies a sense of place, her greatest accolades have come from her collaboration with scientists and large-scale installations at academic institutions. Seen below, her batik on silk Yukon Delta, Alaska is exhibited alongside Judith Poxson Fawkes’ Neighborhood Afloat, showing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The pieces together depict the fragile and powerful waterways that lives are built upon, fabric itself embodying this dichotomy.
(Mary Edna Fraser, Yukon Delta, Alaska, 2006, batik on silk, 44″ x 44″; Judith Poxson Fawkes, Neighborhood Afloat, 2007, linen, inlay tapestry, 53″ x 53″)
The historical context of textile art shows the path that Mary Edna has followed alongside her contemporaries: “Textile art, prior to the 1960s, was barely thinkable as a concept in the United States. Art critics and historians categorized textiles as craft. In the 1960s the concept of textiles as art received impetus from a few artists and curators. During the past fifty years the boundaries continued shifting and the category acquired every more practicing adherents, often women. In the 1970s, three feminists women whose work appears in Thread of Life, intensified and effected change in the art world attitude toward textiles. The work of Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, and Judy Chicago, as well as the textile work of many who followed, are now unambiguously recognized as art.”
(From left to right: Tim Harding, Autumn Orange Canopy, 2011, reverse applique, silk, 35″ x 42″ & Koi # 18, 2010, reverse applique, silk, 45.5″ x 38″; Judith Content, arashi-shibori dyed, discharged, pieced, quilted, and appliqued; Stephanie Liner, Detail of Her Orb, mixed media, 20″ diameter; Miriam Schapiro, Miriam’s Life with Dolls, 2006, acrylic, fabric, and collage on paper, 30.25″ x 60″; Mary Edna Fraser, Charleston Airborne Flooded, SC, 2010, batik on silk, 97″ x 35″ & Sinking Colombian Shores, South America, 1998, batik on silk, 34″ x 63″)
The exhibition includes: Harriet Bell, Lanny Bergner, Laura Breitman, Jenny Campbell, Judy Chicago, Judith Content, Hagar Cygler, Judith Poxson Fawkes, Linda Pigman Fifield, Susan Etcoff Fraerman, Mary Edna Fraser, Gee’s Bend/Mary Ann Pettway, Valerie S. Goodwin, Tim Harding, Cindy Hickok, Samara Kaufman, Stephanie Liner, Christine LoFaso, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Nancy Scheinman, Laura Splan, Laura Strand, and Karen Reese Tunnell.
Thread of Life is located in the Upper Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Spring Semester Hours:
Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm
Sat. & Sun 1 – 4pm
Closed March 3 – 11 except by arrangement.
Florida State University
530 W Call Street
250 Fine Arts Building
Tallahassee, Fl 32306-1140