Stitches in Time
Fiber art exhibit a great fit at Wall Eye Gallery
Culture 2.0 is a matter of virtual stitchery, interlocking ones with zeros. But on a cold day it’s
obvious enough that physical fabrics are still indispensable. In many ways thread continues to
embroider the synthetic present, patching technical innovations into human history.
Wall Eye Gallery fiber artists Linda Ayala and Stephanie Lipscomb assembled the show
“Undomesticated” to celebrate Women’s History Month and National Craft Month, which coincide
this year. Scouring northern Ohio’s lively fiber arts scene with some help from the Internet, they
quickly put together an exciting exhibit of fine arts objects produced in materials ranging from
traditional fibers like wool and silk organza, all the way to polypropylene rope and lutradur (a
polyester roofing product now popular in weaving circles). Conceptually the territory explored by
the ten women on view is even broader. Jennifer Whitten combines beadwork with found object
assemblage to build bejeweled-seeming wall-hung works. Her “Passages” layers postage stamps
from remote countries with words and phrases like “but in a moment,” and “on the way home,
“opening windows to the cross-breezes of daily experience. Emily Felderman’s small abstract
works look like pointillist pastel drawings, exploring issues of form and color – but in fact they’re
painstakingly constructed from many thousands of tiny stitches. While Felderman’s techniques
evoke the complex, meltingly lovely razzle-dazzle of natural surfaces like fur and feathers, they’re
really all about time.
Time, represented by sustained effort and the transformative powers of repetition, is a
primary subject of both art and craft, and takes on a special role at “Undomesticated,” which
Ayala and Lipscomb intend partly as an examination of fine art as it encounters function.
Georgianne Wanous has been known in the Cleveland area for much of the past thirty years,
making works such as those seen here that fuse ecclesiastical subjects and uses with traditional
folk techniques. Cleveland Institute of Art visiting faculty Sara Rabinowitz, working with Julie
Boyer, makes a more conceptual contribution. “Triage” is a hand-made edition of two full-side
cots based on original WW1 specifications, available to gallery patrons to try out for themselves.
Christy Gray and Christine Mauersberger each create thread drawings on fabric, while Shannon
Okey is well-known as the author of many books including Knitting for Dummies, and online as
Time itself and the limitless import of woven fabric, which has always served as a metaphor
linking life and death, presence and absence, is evoked in the five-part “Ghost Rocks” by Oberlin
artist Rebecca Cross. Made from organza in the ancient shibori process, the crinkled, cascading,
seaweed-like work develops its undulations from the fabric’s chemical memory of stones, tie-dyed
into the silk, which then sustains their cupped imprints. Mounted near the gallery’s rear wall, its
rich gray sections wind around space and light like smoke or falling water, like garments for the
tall spirits of much beloved persons, woven into memory.
Ghost Rocks (2010), Rebecca Cross