When it comes to the term âfiber art,â Beth Marino knows that people often have a very particular or specific idea of ââwhat it should look like. Whether it’s a quilt or a tapestry, Marino says it’s this mindset that she hopes to develop.
âThat’s exactly why we wanted to have this exhibit with this group, because they’re so diverse,â says Marino, who works as director of museum and visual arts at California Center for the Arts, Escondido. “They go from the more traditional of what people might think of, whether it’s tapestry or weaving, but then there are people pushing the envelope so far over to the other side.”
Marino talks about “Surface, Substance, Structure: Selections from California Fibers”, a new exhibition inaugurated on January 15 at the Center. It will feature 21 artists from California Fibers, a collective of Southern California artists who work in a variety of materials and practices.
âI like the way some artists use some of the more traditional materials and methods, but are very contemporary and forward thinking in their ideas,â says Marino.
One such artist is Lydia Tjioe Hall, an Altadena-based sculptor who works in a variety of materials including wire and fabricated steel, as well as natural elements such as wood and rocks.
âAnything that’s a line that you can weave into something, it can become a fiber art,â says Hall. âThe good thing about our group is that it encompasses everything from quilting and winding, to three-dimensional work, to weaving and crochet. It’s nice to see the ways people can express themselves even if they don’t work under the same umbrella.
Marino says the centre’s expansive galleries provide ample room for some of the greatest sculptural works by California Fibers artists such as Hall, Ben Cuevas, and Gail Fraser. And thanks to this space, each artist can present up to five pieces. Marino says this created an interesting conservation process.
âWe are fortunate to have such a large space. Lots of artists work really big, and I really try to tap into the rhythm of the art and find connections not just between color and shape – with visual cues that encourage me to put a piece aside. on the other – but also sometimes I’ll put things together conceptually, âsays Marino. âEven two opposing rooms can have a pleasant conversation if they are placed next to each other. “
Founded in 1970 in San Diego, California Fibers’ mission to “encourage and support young and experienced artists” has remained much the same over the past 50 years. The group has a limit of 25 members and judges each artist that applies. Each member is expected to contribute in other ways to the group, whether by working for the curatorial, advertising or, in Charlotte Bird’s case, as group treasurer.
âCalifornia Fibers has been a common thread through most of my personal growth and changes as an artist,â says Bird, a self-proclaimed âtextile and mixed media-basedâ artist who has been a member of California Fibers since early ’90s.
The collective meets regularly and organizes up to four group exhibitions per year.
âOne of the most important things is that it provides exposure opportunities,â Bird continues. âThe group is very active in finding places and setting up exhibitions based on very high quality fibers and textiles.
One of those artists is Polly Jacobs Giacchina, a La Mesa-based sculptor who has exhibited in group shows at the California Center for the Arts, but says “Surface, Substance, Structure” marks the first time California Fibers has exhibited. collectively at the Space Escondido.
âIt’s just an amazing connection that you make, being able to network with other fiber artists,â says Giacchina, who studied fiber art at San Diego State University. She is also president of the Fiber Arts exhibition committee.
âI’ve never worked with a group that supports each other so much. It’s such a well-oiled machine, âadds Marino. âI wanted to work with them for a long time. Obviously, this is a well established and well respected group, so this is definitely something we wanted to bring to the Center and to the community.
“Surface, substance, structure: selections of Californian fibers”
When: January 15 to March 6 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Or: California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido
Call: (800) 988-4253
Price: Free- $ 12
In line: artcenter.org
Combs is a freelance writer.