Fiber Art Comes to Haverhill Art Association Show

The Haverhill Art Association,, is holding its annual Spring Art Show, May 18th – 31st, at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill.  For the very first time this show will include a display of fiber art. Included are one of my handwoven pieces, a needle felted picture by Kim Sheehan and a student piece by Susan Duncan. The hope is to broaden the HAA’s rather traditional definition of what constitutes “fine art”.
Margaret Russell and I will be on hand to answer questions and promote the field of fiber arts in general during the opening reception (wine and cheese) on Friday, May 21st, 6:30 to 9:00 PM. The reception and the show are open to the public. So, if you’ve nothing better to do this Friday evening, stop by and say Hi. Be sure to ask “Which way to the fiber art?” when you get there. ;)

3 Replies to “Fiber Art Comes to Haverhill Art Association Show”

  1. Handweaving – art vs. craft, is a topic that …. well to borrow part of a line from my favorite musician “strikes a match in me”.

    I would love for us to generate some conversation regarding this. I certainly feel that handweaving is an art, as is spinning, knitting, felting, and quilting.

    My basis is these are arts that have accompanied us throughout history. Frequently it is through art one is able to look back in time and learn more about various cultures and their eras. The fact that the results from weaving may have a functional side should not eliminate it from being respected and accepted as an art form. I believe handwoven pieces can certainly elicit as much emotion as framed oil paintings.

    The word “craft” has taken on various meanings and I think that is where the problem lies. There is a place and appreciation for everything but I feel there is quite a difference between a skillfully woven piece and the current project of the month which is quickly replaced next month (I will leave the description of this up to you but am sure a picture has already formed in your mind). Certainly “craft” or “fine craft” in association with artisan leads one back to its historical origin and a more accurate definition. I am by no means looking to be demeaning here but just trying to determine why and where the line is drawn between art and craft.

    I have in many situations experienced some really interesting reactions to being a “handweaver”. Some being quite dismissive. One as recently as this past weekend when I was among a good-sized group of unknown people. Overhearing some conversation regarding studio space in Amesbury, and knowing some artists/artisans in said space, I thought what a grand opportunity to converse with a couple of guests where we might have “art” in common. What a great ice breaker. However, I am afraid the body language (and as if that was not enough, just no language at all) of the pair upon my introduction of being a handweaver told me I was definitely not on the same level of them being an oil painter and watercolorist. Hmmm, why?

  2. Margaret, I understand – and agree with – what you are saying.

    In the past, I encountered similar situations when referred to as a “quilter.” Early on, quilts were considered to be strictly bed coverings, something stitched together for utilitarian purposes. In recent years, of course, they have moved from the bed to the wall and are now more readily accepted as a viable alternative to other works of art. But it was a long time in coming.

    Handweaving, as you mentioned, is indeed an art form. And, “art form” is probably the term which should be used, as the word “craft” oftentimes brings to mind something made from Avon bottles and feather flowers. At least, at this point in time, that is how I tend to think of it.

    People need to be educated. They need to become better informed as to the different aspects and creative nature surrounding handwoven items. The Spring Art Show currently being put on by the Haverhill Art Association is a good example of how this can be done. Betsy’s suggestion to ask “Which way to the fiber art?” is an excellent idea.

    Perhaps other art associations and/or galleries located in the area could be approached with the suggestion of including handwoven items in their exhibits. This, in addition to the on-going fiber-related events, could quite possibly help in educating people as to the artistic aspect of handweaving.

  3. You have keyed right in to what needs to happen here – education! I think your idea of approaching other art venues is a terrific one. We have Newburyport Art Association right around the corner from A Loom with a View. It will be very interesting to see what occurs this Friday eve at the Haverhill Art Association. It is certainly a good start towards sharing handweaving with art appreciators and hopefully some general visitors as well.

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