The fiber of our being – Marco Island art center focuses on textiles in new exhibit

The Art Center's Lynn Holley with 'A Dress Book' by Susan Perrine. The Marco Island Center for the Arts debuts fiber art by a Maine artists' collective during their Art Social on Tuesday, January 10. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

The Art Center's Lynn Holley with "A Dress Book" by Susan Perrine. The Marco Island Center for the Arts debuts fiber art by a Maine artists' collective during their Art Social on Tuesday, January 10. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

A recent presentation by the Historical Society showcased all the practical uses that can be made of cordage, or fiber. Now, a new exhibit opening today (Tuesday) at the Marco Island Center for the Arts demonstrates that fiber can also be employed in the service of fine art – and not just to hang a mobile.

At the Art Center’s regular second-Tuesday-of-the-month Art Social, the gallery will debut an exhibit of artwork by the Maine Fiber Artists’ Association, a group of New England artists and artisans who specialize in art from cloth and cordage. In keeping with the Center’s stated goal of expanding its scope, and embracing all the arts, this new show breaks new ground, highlighting a medium often overlooked when considering fine art as a whole.

Even within the genre, fiber art turns out to cast a wide net, so to speak, with many significantly different interpretations of just what the term means. From the series of quilts, with colorful fabrics sewn together, and appliquéd with paint, to simple knotted swathes of fabric, to forests of yarn, these artists clearly haven’t let themselves be “tied down” by their fibers.

One striking piece, “In Touch” by artist Kathleen Goddu, employs a succession of layers of diaphanous gauze, creating a shimmering three-dimensional image of a porpoise leaping from a moonlit sea, using a Japanese technique known as shibori. Artist Susan Perrine’s works include “A Dress Book,” a whimsical piece which actually becomes a woman’s dress, made up of hundreds of card-sized rectangles cut from children’s books. Priced at $850, it is probably just the thing to wear to your next parent-teacher conference. No size is indicated.

Also in the category of “art you can wear,” a beautiful scarf, simply knitted in a subtle blend of autumn colors, hangs on the wall. Entitled “Night Lights,” and also by Perrine, it carries a price tag of $125, and would have felt good when the temperatures dropped recently. Another piece resembles a scarf, but suitable in size for King Kong, perhaps, or Paul Bunyan.

Fabrics hang from the ceiling, creating an ambiance reminiscent of a kelp forest, or are twisted into flowers, as in Katherine Harman Harding’s “Lilies on the Edge.”

While Art Center executive director Lynn Holley agreed the fiber exhibit is in keeping with the broadened mission of the center, she hastened to add she cannot take credit for curating it.

“This was put together by Sandy Wallen,” said Holley, while conducting a preview of the show. “She’s a Marco resident who summers in Maine. It’s amazing the diversity we have here. Some of it is very Zen, some is Lady Gaga.”

The Art Center will host a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m., today (Tuesday) Jan. 10, to open the exhibit. As always, refreshments including hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer are complimentary, with a jar for donations.

“La Petite Gallery,” the Art Center’s second exhibit space, is showing the acrylic paintings of California artist Giles Parrish, who specializes in “Ladies,” paintings of women, and whose works serve as the label art for Silacci Vineyards, a Napa Valley winery.

The organization’s headquarters is located at 1010 Winterberry Drive. For more information on the Marco Island Center for the Arts, call (239) 394-4221.

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