Maybe you’re like a lot of people. When someone puts a word like “new” in all uppercase in the title of their art exhibit, as the current “Converging Visions: NEW Works in Fiber” at the galleries in Summit Artspace, a Knight Arts grantee, you kind of wonder what all the fuss is about.
Why the emphasis you might ask yourself. I’m not sure you’ll get a full answer by visiting the display that will run through the end of July, but give it a shot, especially if you are into fiber-based works.
The eight female artists on display (Jean M. Evans, Polly Gilmore, Fredericka A. Hagerty, Karen Hinkle, Kris Kapenekas, Maryt Platis Kapenekas, Kathryn Markel Levy and Jean A. Markowitz) are, as organizers say, “Textile artists with diverse backgrounds and training that create expressive pieces from beadwork to painting on cloth, joining impossible fabric shapes in sculptural forms and with manipulated papers and fabrics.”
The group also apparently represents an “art collective” that “began working together in 1994 to support and critique each others’ work and experience art together.” The eight-member Collective Fiber Artists are united by their creative interest in contemporary fiber and the ways that it can be employed for, united with, and reworked to, yield new and interesting art.
So that’s probably the basis of the “new” in the title. These artists are exploring, taking artistic chances with diverse fabrics and other materials. It’s research at the “let’s try it” level, and, as academics might put it, it’s peer reviewed in a way.
The women certainly upheld the premise of working with diverse materials. Polly Gilmore’s “Incident in February” is a composite of computer generated printed photos, threads, paint, inks, pencils, wire, ribbon and hand embroidery. You wouldn’t know that from the delicately created array of conjoined panels lush with shades of purple.
Kris Kapenekas’ “Target Practice, i.e. Don’t Mess with Jack” has its own strange and visually arresting combination. Done with discharge stitch resist, pieced and bonded, commercial fabric, Heat n’ Bond, the black and brown array of varying targets are unique in that they each have a bullet hole somewhere close to dead center on each of nine targets. There is a placard explaining “Jack” from the title; he’s the guy who from 30-some paces away put them all there.
Most of the works displayed are two-dimensional pieces on the walls and are well laid out for catching viewers’ eyes. They are frequently highly-colored and striking works, like Jean Evans’ “Tomato Takeover,” a rich quilt that is hand painted, appliqued and machine quilted, or Karen Hinkle’s “Origins,” a work in cotton, batik and wood fibers on canvas.
“Converging Visions: NEW Works in Fiber” will be on display through July 27th at Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St.; 330-376-8480; www.akronareaarts.org. Hours are 12-9 p.m., Thursday and 12-5 p.m., Friday-Saturday. Admission is free.