Friday, November 6, 2015

Fabric art goes beyond paint

(Originally published in the 11/6/15 edition)

   Art is more than just paint on a canvas. As the art collective Threads of Change will demonstrate, many other materials can be used to create art.
   The group-consisting of seven artists from Benicia and Vallejo- will have an exhibition on display at the Benicia Public Library titled “Material Matters.” The exhibit will feature various works of fiber art from the seven artists.
   What is fiber art? According to Threads of Change member Kathy Manifold, fiber art uses different kinds of threads and fabric to create art. This includes wool, cardboard and other less traditional art materials. 
   “You can do it in traditional form, which would be a quilt, or you can do it by weaving fibers together to make a beautiful object,” she said. “One of the unique things about us is that we each have different approaches to how we use fiber.”
   Manifold got her start doing costume design for summer stock productions in New York, which inspired her to take on a different kind of art.
   “I found that I understand texture better than I understand creating texture with paint,” she said.
   After retiring from costume design, Manifold found a second calling by creating fabric art inspired by her husband’s nature photography, which she says has more depth. 
   “It’s exciting to try and get the emotional context and emotional depth into my artwork,” she said. 
   Manifold met fellow fiber artist Anne Petty after the latter did a fabric art show in the City Council chamber last year. The two were joined by fellow local fiber artists Nancy Freeman, Linda Hubbard, Susan Lane, Margaret Linderman and Jan Radesky, and the seven put on their own show, “Threads of Change: New Trends in Fiber Art.” 
   “(Petty) came and talked to me and then she talked to others in the community that she knew were doing that kind of work,” she said. “We found that in working to put the show together, we really enjoyed each other’s company. When we got the opportunity to do a second show, we decided to form a little fabric art collective.”
   At that point, Threads of Change was born, giving the artists a venue to not only create art together but also learn from one another.
   “When they help you get better at what you’re doing, they do it with a graciousness,” Manifold said. “We also push each other to get better at our arts. We’re constantly growing as a group in our ability and our creativity.”
   Each of the seven artists come from different backgrounds, ranging from performing arts to fine art to art education, and Manifold says they all bring a unique voice to each of their artwork.
   “One woman has taught collage for years, so she is making fantastic clothing like coats and skirts,” Manifold said. “She’s doing them with symbolic collage where she does a picture that has meaning to her and puts them onto a garment you can actually wear.”
   The artists will be holding a reception on Sunday, Dec. 6 where they will show the techniques used to create their artwork and walk viewers through the process. Viewers will be able to ask questions and are also encouraged to feel the artwork.
   “Part of textile is how it feels, so I’m hopeful parents will bring their children and I’ll let them touch the work,” Manifold said. 

   “Material Matters” will run from Nov. 23 to Jan. 9 in the Marilyn O’Rourke Gallery of the Library, which is located on 150 East L St. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays through Sundays. The reception will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6. For more information, visit

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