Why Fiber, coda

I kind of thought I was done, for now, explaining why I make fiber art instead of watercolor art or whatever medium art.

Then I started getting comments about the emotional aspects of textile. For example, one of my favorite fiber artists, Linda Colsh, left this on my post (edited to get to my point):

“while it works against the medium’s potential marketability, I do indeed like that being a woman’s medium primarily, fiber can suggest reinforcing, implied, even subliminal meanings that carry the feminist message. For my own subject matter, the elderly, that “quilt” is also often identified with the gray generation, choosing to express my statements in this medium further doubles down on message.

That works out great for her. I fear I may not examine my motives so deeply–I use fiber because I like it. I don’t think about the symbolism of my choices. Should I? Does this make me less of an artist?

I also have gotten comments about fiber being warm and fuzzy and all that. Tis true, but so what? At this point I don’t really care if your grandmother made quilts. Good for her for finding a creative outlook. If that is your first reaction/comment on seeing one of my pieces, then I have failed as an artist because I want your first reaction/comment to be about the Art that is hanging in front of you.

Not that I’ll say that to your face. I’ll just paste on a smile and nod.

Sometimes I think about changing primary media. Some day I probably will. But until then, I’ll be playing in the shallow end of the fiber pool, enjoying the manipulation of texture and thread and fiber choice, trying my best to make art. The deep thoughts can be left to my biographer. Ha.

About BJ Parady

I make art about the microcosm I live in. At the moment, that's a suburb of Chicago on the Fox River were the prairies used to bloom. The art is inspired by the view out my car window or down my street as I walk. Right now most of my art is in an abstract expressionist style.
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3 Responses to Why Fiber, coda

  1. Hi BJ
    I’m not sure how I came across your blog – but I was reading this series about “why fiber” and I hope the why posts aren’t over. I don’t remember reading about process much – other than how. I’m guessing you also think it’s really fun and you chose fiber cuz you love to sew as a process. It’s just stinkin’ fun.

    And, as an Artist who tends to work with recycled bits and trash I always wonder why not used fibers?

    How’s the weather? I’m originally from Wisconsin and love to bump into other midwesterners?

    Also, are you in the conspiracy yet?

    :) Jennifer

  2. BJ Parady says:

    Jennifer,
    My so-called process articles do include bits of ‘why’. And actually, the sewing is my least favorite part, except for the decorative stitching that is often a finishing touch.

    I do use old fibers frequently, particularly old tablecloths and tea towels. (see http://bjparady.com/wintersol.html for example). The way I’m working now, I overdye or discharge color or paint them.

    Winter is well upon us, although we’ve had no snow yet. And I’m not ‘in the conspiracy.’

    Thanks for reading and commenting, though!

  3. As usual, we are pretty much on the same page. I don’t often get the “my grandmother made quilts” response to my art quilts or the fact that I’m an art quilter anymore, so when it does happen, it is rather jarring. I can’t think of another art medium that would engender an equivalent inappropriate response. Still, like you, I don’t correct and just smile and let the person reminisce.

    As for the motive and lack of using the medium consciously for its symbolism, I don’t think you need worry. I find that all kinds of things come out in my work “accidentally” and if others see it as symbolize, well as with all art – we try to capture our vision and others will add to it with their own stories. A piece that is static with only one interpretation is probably not great art. We tell our stories with what resonates with us, and there may not need be a reason for why it resonates. It’s enough that it does.

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