Innovators and Legends: Generations in Textiles and Fiber, an exhibition of artwork by multiple generations of top-tier, internationally celebrated fiber artists opened Dec. 13 at the Muskegon Museum of Art. The MMA and guest curator Geary Jones have organized the exhibition for national tour.
Innovators and Legends explores the explosion of fiber as a fine arts movement during the latter half of the 20th century with over 75 works by 50 artists. The exhibition tells the story of the ongoing transformation of fiber arts from the functional and decorative to the innovative and experimental, and the creative potential of the wide array of diverse materials and techniques being used today. Contemporary themes such as narrative, identity, ecology, recycling, and political thought are explored, while continuing to draw upon the beauty and visual richness achieved through color, pattern, texture, and form.
The idea for the exhibition was conceived by Geary Jones, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based artist and teacher. Jones approached Museum staff with the idea of bringing to West Michigan an exhibition that would give the casual viewer and scholar alike a chance to see some of the extraordinary originality that suffuses the world of fibers and textiles. Curator Jones comments that Innovators and Legends contains art by “some of the best fiber artists in the world” and that “it will be a stunning exhibition, and regardless of personal taste, there should be something that just about anyone can relate to.”
Participating artists are among the finest in the field of fiber art. Beginning with artists active in the 1960s—and Katherine Westphal from the 1940s—Innovators and Legends uses the art as a framework for exploring the recognition of fibers as fine art and the innovations that have occurred in the field. As each generation of artists in this exhibition pushed the boundaries of tradition, they enabled subsequent artists to expand further, challenging the very nature of fiber arts. Internationally celebrated artists such as Gerhardt Knodel, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, Tom Lundberg, Nancy Crow and Sherri Smith recommended peers and former students for inclusion, establishing a base of teaching and reciprocal inspiration upon which to build the exhibition.
Martin notes, “The art is as impressive as the careers and talent of the artists, and is a something-for-everyone experience. To touch on a few of the highlights: the knitted superhero costumes of Mark Newport and a Soundsuit by Nick Cave will share space with Gyöngy Laky’s natural wood construction Globalization III. Arturo Sandoval has contributed two pieces from his Pattern Fusion series, Ted Hallman two woven works from different points in his career, and Gerhardt Knodel a new mixed media work, Do You See What I See?”
This exhibition will run through March 17, 2013.
Local exhibition sponsors include SPX Corporation, Blue Lake Public Radio, and MLive/Muskegon Chronicle. Additional support is provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.