“Contemporary Fiber in Florida 2020,” a juried exhibition at Florida CraftArt showcases innovative approaches to traditional fiber techniques, includes weaving, surface design, wearable art, basketry, beading and textile dyeing. It features 40 artists from around the state of Florida, from Tallahassee to Sunrise. The opening reception and awards took place on March 13, 2020, and the exhibit has been extended, by appointment in the gallery or on view on FloridaCraftArt.org, until August 22, 2020.
The entirety of “Contemporary Fiber in Florida 2020” may be viewed online, and all pieces featured in the exhibition are available for purchase. Visit https://floridacraftart.org/slider/contemporary-fiber-in-florida-2020/ to flip through the digital exhibition book, browse artworks, and view exhibition videos, including a walkthrough of the show with the curator as well as video artist statements from featured artists.
This interesting show is curated by Cindy Bartosek, a West Palm Beach-based artist and educator. Ms. Bartosek specializes in tapestry weaving, botanical eco-printing, and photography, as well as photographic printing on fiber. “It was an honor and a pleasure to curate this exhibition celebrating the evolving field of fiber art and the remarkable creativity and innovation of Florida artists who are pushing the boundaries of their chosen media,” Ms. Bartosek says. “More than 170 pieces were considered for the exhibition and 67 pieces by 40 artists were selected. They highlight the diversity of the genre today, expressing a wide range of ideas, inspiration and personal stories, giving a modern sensibility to ancient techniques and time-honored traditions.”
The exhibition was judged by the curator of the Leepa Ratner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs, Christine Renc-Carter.
Best of Show was awarded to Delray Beach artist Amy Gross for her multimedia wall installation titled “Silver Bees (h.miserabilis) Adapting.” Tampa artist Nneka Jones embroidered an arresting portrait, “Dartboard Target,” for which she won First Place. Sarasota-based Cassia Kite, for her genre-crossing embroidery that translates into a musical score, “Bearcat Stadium Soundstitching,” was awarded Second Place. Third Place went to Leeann Kroetsch from Tampa for her “Inspirational White Dress,” which is a wearable piece inspired by a Japanese basin featured in the permanent collection of the Appleton Museum. Liliana Crespi from Port St. Lucie was awarded Curator’s Choice for her stunning hand-woven tapestry entitled “Mangroves.”
Honorable Mentions were given to Amber Quimby (St. Petersburg) for “The Wish,” Stephen Sidelinger (Venice) for his embroidered “Seven Deadly Sins Books,” Carole Hetzel and Feliciano Ledy (Tavares) for “Brendan Basket #435,” Jane Jennings (Port Orange) for “Movin’ On,” Susan Vazquez (Delray Beach) for “Blue Green Algae,” Dawn Waters (Gulfport) for “Woolie Willie,” and Bobbi Baugh (Deland) for “Because That’s Where it All Begins.”
Artists selected for this exhibition are taking their traditional knowledge of fiber craft and bounding vibrantly into an incredible range of works that speak far beyond visuals.
Nneka Jones, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, is a Fine Art major at the University of Tampa. She uses her skills in embroidery to create a stirring “Target” series of fiber portraits rendered in painstaking detail. Her series is meant to highlight victimized, “targeted” individuals, and to encourage conversation around the idea of who is a “victim” in certain societies. Ms. Jones considers the intensely physical embroidery process as integral to her artmaking.
One of the most liberating elements of working with fiber is its tactility and vibrancy. For Port St. Lucie-based Esta Rubin, moving from traditional printmaking into quilting was a creative journey after becoming legally blind. Ms. Rubin says that these pieces are wonderfully textured, tactile art quilts that are a “pathway to use her artistic vision.” In “Dan Mask,” Ms. Rubin explores the rich history of mask-making by the Dan peoples of Liberia.
The strenuous nature of fiber processes is highlighted in Bobbi Baugh’s quilted works that are made with hand-printed fabrics. In her home studio in Deland, Ms. Baugh builds up high detail on fabric by monoprinting, painting, photo transfer and resist. These fabrics are collaged together and turned into art quilts. The highly textured and colorful pieces explore dreamscapes, memory, and serve as a method of storytelling.
The artists featured in “Contemporary Fiber in Florida 2020” are breathing a new life into these age-old techniques. Fiber and textile traditions are universal and cross-cultural, and they are and always have been an integral element to our way of life. These labor-intensive, physical pieces cross boundaries and join the worlds of conceptuality, spirituality and craft by highlighting the element of the handmade. This exhibition is an exploration into a medium that is often misunderstood and is a beautiful representation of how vibrant the world of fiber is for artists in Florida.
“Contemporary Fiber in Florida 2020” exhibition and programming are generously sponsored by Jeannine Hascall, the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Foundation, Viirtue, City of St. Petersburg, VISIT FLORIDA, and the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs.
Florida CraftArt is located at 501 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit www.FloridaCraftArt.org or call (727) 821-7391. Admission is free. Florida CraftArt is open by appointment only. Appointments are available Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, and may be made by calling the gallery or by emailing Liz@FloridaCraftArt.org. Florida CraftArt is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and headquartered in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work. Fine craft art is presented in its 2,500-square-foot retail gallery and curated exhibitions are featured in its adjacent exhibition gallery. Florida CraftArt is the only statewide organization offering artists a platform to show and sell their work.
Schedule and upcoming events:
Fiber Art Weekend
Friday, August 21- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Workshop: Imagery on Fiber with Cindy Bartosek, FCA member: $65 Nonmember: $85
Saturday, August 22- 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Workshop: African Hearts with Kianga Jinaki, FCA member: $45 Nonmember: $65; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Workshop: Needle-Felted Frog with Gin Blische, FCA member: $40 Nonmember: $60; 4 to 5 p.m. Artists’ Talks; 5 to 6:30 p.m. Closing Reception, People’s Choice Award, and meet the artists and curator
Exhibiting Artists: Bobbi Baugh, Deland * Kim Borowy, Tequesta * Bonnie Bruner, Lake Worth * Marilyn Conklin, Punta Gorda * Suzanne Conners, Stuart * Liliana Crespi, Port St. Lucie * Kathryn Erickson, St. Petersburg * Muffy Clark Gill, Naples * Marlene Glickman, Clearwater * Linda Golden, Bloomfield Hills * Amy Gross, Delray Beach * Amy Hemphill Dove, St. Augustine * Carole Hetzel, Tavares * Andrea Huffman, Sunrise * Jane Jennings, Port Orange * Kianga Jinaki, Riviera Beach * Nneka Jones, Tampa * Irene Katz, Lake Worth * Gillian Kennedy Wright, Lake Park * Cassia Kite, Sarasota * Carolyn Kossar, Tampa * Leeann Kroetsch, Tampa * Karol Kusmaul, Inverness * Mary Jane Lord, Tallahassee * Ellen Nepustil, Bradenton * Ramona Pelley, Winter Park * Alice Pickett, Gulfport * Meg Pierce, Sarasota * Rebecca Levine Quigley, Sarasota * Amber Quimby, St. Petersburg * Esta Rubin, Port St. Lucie * Stephen Sidelinger, Venice * Jim Smith, Tampa * Andy Brunhammer, Tampa * Mei Ling St. Leger, Clearwater * Susan Vazquez, Delray Beach * Dawn Waters, Gulfport * Malle Whitaker, Palm Beach * Gin Blische, Lake Clarke Shores * Susan Lumsden, Brooksville * Emely Stehle, Clearwater