Walsh gallery gets some new threads

The Walsh Gallery has unveiled its latest exhibit, “Uncommon Threads,” which contains the works of 15 contemporary fiber artists. The exhibit, which is free and available to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, opened on Nov. 2 and will run until Dec. 11.

According to Walsh Gallery Director and co-curator Jeanne Brasile, the intent of “Uncommon Threads” is to find a mix of artists working the fine line between art and craft.
Art, Brasile said, is something created for aesthetic purposes, or to push forward an idea.

She said that in the past, craft has been a purely utilitarian woman’s work. Fiber, thread and fabric, in particular, have rarely been used as art.

“The goal of this exhibit is to examine where fiber art is going in contemporary context,” Brasile said. “Fiber does have potential as an art form.”

The difficulty in this art form, Brasile said, is that there is not yet a middle ground between art and craft. Fiber art is sometimes not considered true art by fine artists, and not considered a useful craft by crafts workers. This is a problem the wide range of artists featured in “Uncommon Threads” face.

“It takes a certain kind of artist to collaborate with this medium,” Brasile said. “You have to accept and work with the fabric; otherwise you’ll be completely frustrated.”

Co-curator and museum professions graduate student Howard Hurst agreed with Brasile’s vision of unity between art and crafts and helped to develop the exhibit.

“Often times artists working in this medium are relegated to the world of craft, or are included as fine artists without recognition of the traditional methods involved,” he said.

“Our goal was to present a group of artists who blurred the conventional definitions of fine art and craft.”

Brasile also embraced the chance to show pieces created in less predictable mediums.
“As a curator, I like to challenge people’s perceptions of art. We chose artists working at that intersection.” she said.

“We wanted to dispel common stereotypes,” Hurst added. “This isn’t a show of your grandmother’s quilts.”

His statement is proved in many of the pieces, including Ryan Higgins’ “No Mustard,” which is a sculpture of a dog with a sandwich platter for a head. The work is made of green feather dusters, wood, foam, vinyl, plastic and rubber.

Darren Jones’ “Scavenger” is another piece that utilizes different mediums: thread, cement and wood stain.

Brasile says the exhibit is enjoyable to anyone, art students and non-art students alike.

She calls the bright pieces, “eye candy.”

Upon entering the Gallery, it seems Brasile and Hurst have deliberately provided an open, contemplative space toward the beginning of the exhibit. The farther into the exhibit one goes, the more crowded with art pieces it becomes.

“It ends in craziness,” Brasile said. “It’s a dizzying variety.”

Hurst and other students help the artists set up their pieces in the Gallery. Brasile said she is willing to work with any schedule, and that meeting and working with the artists is a great opportunity for any student, regardless of what they are studying.

Erin Bell can be reached at erin.bell@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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