Sunday, January 18, 2009

Group Show or Solo Installation? Your Choice!

RAFA, Rochester Area Fiber Artist's opening reception this past Friday evening set a new record for the the Arts and Cultural Council Gallery. Over 211 guests attended despite chilling single digit temperatures from the Arctic cold front that gripped the Northeast. The standard bearers for classical fine art may still debate whether fibers are art or craft but the public finds the work fascinating and is eager to learn more about "how it's done".

This attraction to fiber art, the general public's sincere interest and desire to understand the processes all reinforce my sense that widespread appreciation of textiles as an art form is growing. Collectors are taking note of the sophisticated bodies of work of many practicing artists in the field; the tide seems to be rising for the respect of textiles as an artistic medium. That does coincide, I admit, with the growing professionalism of the practitioners and the increasing maturity of the work that textile artists are producing. It's quality that is driving this increased attention and recognition.

Another delight of the opening was the centerpiece on the reception table that added a whimsical touch to the occasion. RAFA member Janet Root displayed her wonderful collection of vintage toy sewing machines, a feast for the imagination in their own right.

After the lively evening, I returned the next day as a volunteer to help man special Saturday hours. Once my shift ended and I was leaving, I happened to catch this "solo installation" of street art on the building next to the parking lot.
The contrasts between the two struck me and I had to grab my camera and record one budding artist's contribution to art on this planet.

I sometimes wonder what it feels like to spray graffiti on a building and not "get caught"- is it just the excitement of defying authority and conventional society that spurs the act? Does the maker hope we will see his or her work as a form of art -- or is it just one of those daring "nothing better to do on a boring Friday night" teenage impulses?

It occurs to me that if I ever get frustrated and feel that I'm not getting enough opportunities to exhibit my language pieces, all I need are some spray cans and a dark outfit and I can start creating one-woman installations all over the city!

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