Posts Tagged ‘Kathy Loomis’

Details, Details, Details – Taking A Closer Look

Boundary Waters 53
Virginia A. Spiegel

Kathy Loomis writes an eclectic and always interesting blog, Art with a Needle.  She recently posted an article questioning whether details matter in fiber artwork (both for viewing and jurying) by using the example of my Boundary Waters 53 which she saw and photographed at Form, Not Function.  Read her post here.

This post is a comment in a longer format discussing why details matter as much to me as they do to the viewer. Also Kathy was correct when she said her photography didn’t show the richness of the artwork; these photographs were taken by Deidre Adams.

Boundary Waters 53, Detail
Virginia A. Spiegel

Kathy contrasts the use of detail shots for jurying fiber work v. painting. I do paint on stretched canvas (just for myself) when I’m in a creative rush, but I always miss the lovely dimension and texture of fiber.  I work a lot with paper and collage – ditto.  Interesting, but not THAT interesting after a bit unless I spend a lot of time building up texture. In my fiber work I veer back and forth from basically paintings on cloth with a bit of stitch (such as Boundary Waters 19) to heavily textured pieces such as BW 53.

But as I have always said, technique never trumps message for me.  If you start with Boundary Waters 48 and work your way up to Boundary Waters 53 on my website, notice the color changing and morphing.  It’s not coincidental.  Of course, there is a story I’m telling even if you may not know exactly what it is.

My sister and I were “stuck” on a narrow ledge of a campsite in the Boundary Waters due to high winds and storms for about three days.  In small lulls, we would venture forth from our tent and stare at our only scenery – a huge cliff covered in granite rocks, trees with fall foliage, and a few pine trees.  As the storm progressed, the leaves were beaten from the trees and fell in cascades of red, orange, yellow, and green.  When viewed through the never-ending rain, it was as though streams of color and texture were flowing down the cliff. Toward the end of our stay, the dark wet rock rather than the leaves were becoming the dominate feature of the cliff face.


Boundary Waters 53, Detail
Virginia A. Spiegel

In this series within the Boundary Waters series, I’m trying to show this progression.  I’m trying to show that the very horizontal surface of the cliff became very vertical with the falling of a blurred stream of leaves cascading down wet rock.  I was mesmerized then and I am still amazed just recreating the scene in my mind.  So primeval – rock, rain, leaf; so beautiful in the destruction of a delicate autumn scene back to the underlying and ever-present granite.

For these artworks, the materials list is long:  White cotton cloth, acrylic paint, textile oil paint, felt, hand-dyed cheesecloth, hand-dyed yarn, upholstery fabric, duck cloth, velvet, Lutradur, vintage polyester scarves, polyester fabric, netting, silk paper, silk fabric, and thread.

That’s a lot of materials and you would never know or appreciate their inclusion if you didn’t take a closer look. All the materials were needed to show the texture, the movement, and the majesty of that amazing and dynamic event. It was more difficult than you would imagine to keep all the materials in hand, to sew them down without adhesives, to place them with care to keep the rhythm of the artwork, and finally to sew them again to emphasize the flowing verticalness (if that’s a word) of the scene.

Why weren’t there more works along this vein in the Boundary Waters series?  When I’m out of materials, I’m done.  There is no way I can recreate the lovely compost heap of materials I had in hand when I was seized with the need to recreate this message of the ever-evolving rhythm of life and death in Nature.  But the Boundary Waters series continues exploring this message as it has from the beginning.

I say, thank goodness for detail shots.  If you can’t see an artwork in person, they are the next best thing to show you something more about the artwork and the artist’s intent.  With fiber, and with me, there is always a MORE and detail photography is a useful way to begin the dialogue with a viewer about that more-ness. If you have read any of my book reviews you know my refrain, “It’s not a painting, show us detail photos of surface design and stitching.”  It doesn’t make fiber art less a work of art to show us these things; it makes our art more understandable and even more interesting.

And, of course, I have an opinion about the utility of detail photography and other aspects of jurying. I wrote this post after jurying Journal Quilt Project II and this after choosing the artists for the invitational Sightlines exhibit.




04 2012