Making it in NYC by Joetta Maue
as presented in Surface Design Journal
Summer issue 2012
Artwork by Rebecca Reinquist Valentine
One reason to join a national organization often is to receive the journals they publish. The Surface Design Journal is one such quality magazine. The Surface Design Association is an example of a great organization with an excellent journal which presents well written articles and very clean design.
I am often guilty of not reading my magazines as they arrive and this was the case for the Summer 2012 issue of SD. When I did finally open the pages I was very impressed with an article, Making it in NYC, by Joetta Maue.
The article features work by artists who use embroidery as their medium and who live in or are involved with the New York art scene. She presents her observations on how theses artists are seeking and receiving more solo shows with NYC galleries and how they are receiving this type of representation.
The article then presents work by individuals who are succeeding in this environment along with some very interesting statements. One of the artist featured is Rebecca Ringquist Valentine. She says: "Artists are drawing, layering, collaging, and painting with thread in much more conceptually grounded and narrative ways. These are not cliche, subversive stitch samplers, but highly considered and developed works made with needle and thread."
The aspect of this article that was most meaningful to me was the assertion that this group of artists rejects the classification of "fiber artists"and choose to be simply artists who make art. Bravo. I have always felt that we do ourselves a disservice to separate ourselves into sub-groups and only show our work in arenas where we know for sure the work will be understood and appreciated. I know that when I go to my studio I use the same creative processes that I always use whether I am working with wire and metal or fabric and stitch. The only difference is the techniques that are required to achieve the work I want to make.
Michael Lyons Wier of Lyons Wier Gallery represents a number of artists who are exploring fiber techniques. He states, "all artists must fully embrace their medium, in the case of fiber, they may have to go a little further with their conceptual and narrative agendas to be taken seriously."
I appreciate the truth of this observation. It may not be "fair" but we bear the weight of a long history of textiles being outside the realm of "true art". Lyons also stated, "When they (artists) succeed in this challenge, it makes the work even more powerful."
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