Painting and fiber, two disciplines whose marriage has always intrigued and inspired me throughout the evolution of my work. Over the 15+ years since graduate school, I have completed several series of work, all of which borrow and combine aspects of both disciplines. However, each series leans either to the fiber or painting end, but never fully captures the essence of either discipline.
For this reason, I am fascinated when I come across artists whose work fully exhibits the perfect balance of material, materiality, color, tactility, surface, pattern and process that encapsulates the two disciplines of fiber and painting. I must mention that there are many artists who work within these boundaries and without listing them-there are so many-I am inspired by them all. However, it was difficult to find artists amongst this group whose work possessed a blending, rather than a combination between the materials, process and techniques used, a seamlessness, a perfect balance, a sensitivity, a symbiosis that is almost intangible and cannot easily be put into words. I have chosen three artists whose work stands out and characterizes these qualities .
I have always been a fan of Margery Amdur’s work and first came across it when she was working with layers of painted, hand cut mylar in wonderful diagrammatic floral patterns that resembled the preparatory acetates and paintings I used to do when I was a textile and rug designer. In her layered paintings, there is a painterly quality in which the materials, process and content effortlessly support one other. Her latest work applying paint, pastel, ink and silkscreen on cosmetic sponges takes painting to a whole new level. Some may categorize these pieces as sculpture, but the use of materials, repetition, tactility, process, technique and structural pattern all speak to textiles. The reference to flowers, the garden, layers and the mark of the hand is also evident.
Julia Bland’s work is what sparked the writing of this post as it imbues the perfect blend of fiber and painting I describe above. Bland’s work is founded in weaving and craft based traditions and her stem from her interest in religious and cultural patterns. Working hand in hand with the repetitive process of weaving, she adds, subtracts, cuts, glues, sews and paints elements into her large scale wall hangings. Hand worked details, knots, stitched and painted areas are added after the weaving takes place making piece exciting and interesting both up close and at a distance.
At first glance, Gabriel Luis Perez’s work may just look like mixed media paintings. However, what I see in these richly layered surfaces are references to quilting, applique, weaving, sewing, embellishment, pattern-making, design and repetitive process all densely integrated with painted pop imagery, text and collaged elements. Of his work he writes, “It is important to me that all my pieces inherit an energy; sometimes that energy is one produced during its performance and at other times it is a conjured from past or future experiences.” They do have an energy and I totally get it.