Florida State University : Museum of Fine Arts 

Cognizant of the fact that vigorous regional organizations whose traditional and untraditional quilts make colorful exhibitions, the Museum undertook a different approach characterized by mixed media, new materials, digital images from jacquard looms, and inventive applications of fabric. The exhibition premise also required an historical component in order to describe the deliberate re-appearance of textile works in the latter half of the 20th century: a powerful movement revolved around the pioneer artists of the sixties and seventies who re-claimed media that had been historically sidelined and these artists brought everything that textile arts signified into the political consciousness of the contemporary art world. In Thread of Life there are works that address civil rights and imprisonment, the sweat shop, natural disasters and man-made ones, and the human narrative from birth to poetic elegy. Artists who are weavers, painters, sculptors and needleworkers have created exciting narratives and statements, ecological landscapes and installations.

Judith Content, Cenote Turquesa, 2011, Thai silk and silk charmeuse, arashi-shibori dyed, discharged, pieced and quilted, 46 x 66 inches. Photo credit: James Dewrance.

Harriet Bell, Conversing Behind the Widow, mid '80s appliqué, 79 x 58.5 inches. Photo credit: Jon Nalon.

Lanny Bergner, Canister of Filtered Air, 2011, stainless steel mesh and wire, 10 x 15 x 15 inches.

Laura Breitman,Blowing in the Wind, 2010, fabric collage, 36 x 36 inches.

Multiple views of Edie Dress, acrylic, fiberglass screen.

Judy Chicago, Birth Project: Swaddled by Nature, 1984, woven fabric (plain and twill-weave linen) cut in strips fabricated to form figure, drawing by Judy Chicago, weaving by Jan Cox-Harden, fabrication by Sally Babson, 74.75 x 24.25 inches. Photo credit: Jon Nalon.

Judy Chicago, Birth Project: The Crowning Needlepoint 3, 1983, needlepoint mounted on fabric covered board, painting on 18 mesh canvas by Judy Chicago and Lynda Healy, needlepoint by Kathryn Haas, 36 x 51 inches. Photo credit: Jon Nalon.

Hagar Cygler, Families (Buses), 2010, needlework on canvas, 93 x 200 cm.

Judith Poxson Fawkes, Fleet, 2010, linen inlay tapestry, 31.5 x 39 inches. Photo credit: Bill Bachhuber

Linda Pigman Fifield, Hills of Home series, glass beads on armature, 10 x 12 and 3 x 4 inches.

Susan Etcoff Fraerman, Hannah Banana, 1999, fiber, off loom bead weaving, right angle weave, applied beads, 3 x 6 x 3 inches.

Mary Edna Fraser, Sinking Colombian Shores, South America, batik on silk, 34 x 63 inches.

Mary Ann Pettway, Brick Layer Quilt, corduroy, 78 x 72 inches. Collection of Kathy White and Lynn Hammeras. Photo credit: Jon Nalon.

Tim Harding, Golden Shimmer Triptych, 2008, reverse ap- pliqué, silk, 56 x 148 inches. Photo credit: P. Meyer/C. Hooker.

Cindy Hickok, A Conversation Piece, 2011, rayon thread, discarded telephone dial, 5.5 x 9 x 5.5 inches.

Susan Kaufman, Violet's Vinegar, 2008, beadwork, 12 x 12 inches.

Susan Kaufman, Violet's Vinegar, 2008, beadwork, 12 x 12 inches. detail of Violet's Vinegar.

Stephanie Liner, Her Orb, installed

Nancy Scheinman, With the Trembling of the Leaves — She Blooms, 2011, mixed media on wood panel, 21 x 21 inches.

Laura Splan, from the Doilies series: HIV, 2004, machine embroidered lace sculptures, 8.5 x 8.5 inches each, representing the configurations of viruses: Influenza, SARS, HIV, and Herpes.

Laura Strand, Fall Lake Circle, 2009, jacquard textile, 50 inches wide x 65 inches long.

Karen Reese Tunnell, Common Tern, 2010, hydro-print on cotton, colored pencil, 14 x 14 inches.

Thread of Life focuses on textile art, which prior to the 1960s, was barely thinkable as a concept in the United States at a time when art critics and historians categorized textiles as craft.

During the past half-century the boundaries have continued shifting and textiles or fiber arts have acquired ever more practicing adherents. In the 1970s, three feminist artists whose work appears in Thread of Life, intensified and effected change in the art world attitude toward textiles: the work of Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, and Judy Chicago, as well as the textile work of many who followed, are now unambiguously recognized. As Elissa Auther points out in her book published in 2010, String, Felt, Thread, The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art, both male and female artists began to adopt textiles as a medium of choice as early as the late 1970s.

Credits: Story

Florida State University

The exhibition Thread of Life was organized by the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts in concert with Guest Curators Molly Barron and Linda Harkey and MoFA Curators Viki D. Thompson Wylder, and Teri R. Abstein. Project Staff: Allys Palladino-Craig, Editor and Grant Writer; Jean D. Young, Fiscal Officer and Book Designer; Teri R. Abstein, Communications Officer; Viki D. Thompson Wylder, Education Curator; Wayne Vonada, Chief Preparator.

This program was sponsored in part by:
The State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts; the City of Tallahassee State Partners Initiative and the Leon County Cultural Development Program, both administered by the Council on Culture and Art.

Credits: All media
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