Construct Opening Night

Why fiber now? 

It’s the question contemporary fiberartists wrestle with, however subconsciously, every time they set to work. Why express my ideas with these methods and materials – often rooted in ancient, labor-intensive crafts – when there are so many easier, speedier alternatives? What am I building… and what am I building on?


Left A Thousand Bats by Mary Towner

CONSTRUCT, the most recent FGP members’ show, seeks to explore these issues and show off some pretty spectacular artwork in the process. Juror Sandra Jane Heard, winner of the Fiberart International 2013 Directors’ Award, set herself the goal of selecting a “provocative and intriguing breadth of work.” Not satisfied with creating a “cohesive and stimulating experience,” Heard wanted the show to bowl the viewer over with a sense of the “diversity and creativity” pulsing through fiberart today. No problem. Our artists are so up to the task!

We asked guild member Mary Towner,  whose piece A Thousand Bats is in the show, to share her observations from the opening at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.  She saw lots of viewer interaction around Laura Tabakman’s “On the Trail.” Blowing, waving hands, fanning with catalog, running past, all to make the wires wave in the breeze. Great action!


Also interactive was “Radiant Joy”, a collaboration by Amy Lynne Hoy with Howard Burns, Laura M. Defazio, Eric Edwards, and Tricia Milford, intended for just that. My favorite—two little girls kneeling at the low table, engrossed in coloring tracings of their hands.

Mary thought that too many pieces were chosen for the space which made it look crowded; she later learned that the juror believes 18″ between each piece is enough.  She eavesdropped on viewers who had these opinions. Three women who carpooled from Washington County found the show “interesting and lovely.” A couple from the neighborhood came because the event “looked lively.” Mary learned she’s a professional paper conservator who was shocked to see paper works in a fiber art show! She’d never thought of paper as “fiber.”IMG_4046

The catered buffet in Simmons Hall got Mary’s attention for the dramatic flair servers brought to their jobs, not to mention the giant bowl of bacon chunks. Hungry artists might be wryly amused by Mary’s reaction to a viewer who wanted to know what we do with the work that doesn’t sell: Hahaha!

Thanks to Mary and to Michelle Browne, who took the terrific pix, for sharp eyes and ears at the opening.

Finally, congratulations to all who exhibited their work in this thoughtful and beautiful show. And a special round of applause for the award winners:

  • Sylvia Leo’s Tree Suckers won The 3 Doudens Award for best botanical work. Honorable mention: Laura Tabakman, On the Trail.
  • Lauren Sims took the Joanne Purrington Folley Award for excellence in needlework for “My sink was full of peaches when I heard about the shooting in Aurora.” Honorable mention: Carolyn Carson, Life Forces.
  • Julia Betts’ Detritus won The Marianne Kor Award for artistic excellence and achievements in fiber arts. Honorable mention: Nancy Koenigsberg, Woods at Night.
  • Patricia Kennedy-Zafred won the Martha Ressler Award for Sunset Across Burma. This award is given for Excellent Realization of the Artist’s idea. Honorable mention: Alex Friedman, Terra Wheat & Grass.


What about you? Have you seen the show? (Maybe you even tasted the bacon!) Share your thoughts and impressions by leaving a comment below.


  1. fiberAdmin fiberAdmin says:

    This is super great!