Author: Lisa Marie Patzer
What could human hair, pink plastic twist ties, and wax have in common? They are all considered essential materials for fiber art by contemporary artists featured in the exhibition “In Material, Fiber 2012” at the University of Pennsylvania, Arthur Ross Gallery.
Lucy Arai, Sonya Clark, Mi-Kyoung Lee, and Cynthia Schira, the four artists in the show, use innovation, imagination, and unexpected materials to weave their personal approach in fiber arts from this long-standing traditional art form. The work I was most impressed with was Mi_Kyoung Lee’s pink wall tapestry.
Positioned behind the bright yellow sculpture (also by Lee), I immediately walked over to investigate the wall piece more closely. I was surprised to find that this enormous, bright pink weaving was made of common plastic twist-ties; the thin strands of wire and plastic used by shoppers to keep their produce in the bag. The utilitarian object had been transformed into a material for artistic expression and inspiration.
Juxtaposed to Lee’s large untitled works she has several small, discrete, wax on paper pieces.
The other work in the show includes two large wall sculptures made out of black plastic combs and several small pieces made of woven human hair by Sonya Clark. In her artist statement, Clark says she is guided by two questions, “What is fiber art?” and “How does function fit into the notion of her contemporary art practice?” She answers these questions through an investigation of hairdressing, what she considers a primordial form of fiber art; the comb the essential tool of this fiber art, “from hair salon to loom.”
But don’t take my word for it. Go investigate the exhibit for yourself. The show is up until March 25th, with a gallery talk by artists Lucy Arai and Mi-Kyoung Lee on Saturday, March 3, 10:30 AM in conjunction with the Fiber Philadelphia 2012 opening weekend.