Susan Taber Avila

What is fiber art?

Fiber art includes any type of artwork which uses linear, pliable elements - fibers - as a major material. Fiber art may be constructed by methods traditionally associated with textile fibers such as stitching, weaving, dyeing, etc. Fiber art may consist of objects traditionally associated with textiles including (actual or virtual) clothing, rugs, linens, wall hangings, etc. Who defines fiber art? The artist, the audience, the critic, the curator.

What is the difference between textile art and fiber art?

Mostly semantics. They are basically the same thing although in different geographical regions fiber art is called textile art and vice versa. In a grossly general way, fiber may stand for something more contemporary and conceptual while textile could refer to design, ethnic or historical pieces.

How big is the fiber art movement?

As with any art medium there are a number of different genres within the fiber field including the personal, political, environmental, aesthetic, abstract, figurative, etc. Artwork may be grouped by medium, technique or concept. Most fiber artists exhibit in a wide arena of museums, galleries and corporate settings. Some artists use fiber as their medium of choice but prefer not to use the "F" word to label their work. With or without the label, fiber is gaining in popularity, possibly because the seductive, tactile materials respond nicely to ostensibly impersonal modern technology.

Who is the audience?

The medium of fiber appeals to a broader audience because it uses familiar materials and techniques and thus provides a more accessible and understandable art form. How many people sleep between paintings or put on metal pants in the morning? The familiarity of the materials themselves usually suggest a meaningful reading even without necessarily revealing the artist’s own conception. The audience can take something from the visual encounter and relate it to their own experience. Using fiber as a vehicle for visualizing a personal statement makes sense for artists who want the viewers to trust their own interpretation, even for an audience untrained in art appreciation or critical theory.

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