Beth Markel

New Fiber 2012

Posted on November 19, 2012 by Beth Markel

I went to the show opening last week of New Fibers 2012, a national juried exhibit, sponsored by Michigan’s Fiber Arts Network.  It’s a really interesting, eclectic mix of work, juried by Susie Brandt, out of the Baltimore area.  The show itself is extremely dynamic!  There’s a tremendous variety of work, and if you’re in the area, I would highly encourage you to stop in.

I work in series, which both allows and forces me to think and re-think my lines and shapes, figures and ground.  What do I want the FOCUS of my work to be?  What EMOTIONS do I want to explore, poke, or otherwise contemplate?  How does the quilting fit into the work, if I consider it another layer of design?  When YOU are creating, what do you want others to see, feel or think?

While there, I was near my piece, Joie de Vivre, and received a lot of positive response, from it’s “jubilant” “exciting” “visually stimulating” to “crazy colorful” and “interesting- busy” which is nice to hear.  I WANT the piece to evoke some sense of JOY, hence the name, and that for which I was striving.

Joie De Vivre

Then, as is always the case with art, there were a few detractors.  “It’s just fabric put together in a crazy way,” “It’s small pieces sewn like the Victorian crazy quilts, so not that interesting,” and “it’s a lot like a Gee’s Bend quilt, so probably not much thought went into it.”  Well, to compare anything I would ever make to the glorious Gee’s Bend quilters I will actually take as a HUGE compliment.  To say that when there is a lot of visual texture, it’s just thoughtlessly put together, simply couldn’t be farther from the truth! 

The thing that struck me as I heard negative feed-back was universal for each of these comments – they were all standing with their noses pretty much less than a foot from the work.  I’ve learned over the years to stand back and look at art.  Literally, stand 30’ away, then 20’ then 10’ then 5’ and right up to it.  In the gallery at EMU, that’s not possible due to size, but I think most art benefits from viewing this way.  The first time I went to the National Gallery where a Monet was displayed, I sat, and sat and sat…looking…from about 25’ away.  It’s so critical to get an ENTIRE view of a piece, and then see if it draws you in.  One of the things I love about both Monet and Gee’s Bend is that the more you look, the more you see.  As an artist, I would very much like to be able to do that as well.  The more someone looks…the more someone sees.

Now, on a completely unrelated note, as I do like to update my work here, this is what I’m doing:

I started a piece based on some photos of a friend’s vineyard with Concord grapes:  Here is the update…

Harvest Inspiration









Happy Art!





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