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This article by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 16, 1998. All rights reserved.

Global Threads of Textile Art

Multicolored threads from around the globe converge on our region in September, highlighted in the Princeton area by two major fiber art exhibitions. Meetings in New York of the Textile Society of America and Friends of Fiber Art International have helped set the stage for area exhibitions that are expected to attract an international roster of visitors.

At the Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum, Lore Lindenfeld has curated an exhibition of fiber works by 14 artists from New York and New Jersey, all of whom have exhibited nationally and internationally. Titled, "Invention and Diversity in Textile Art," the show opened September 12, and continues to October 18. The artists' reception is Friday, September 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.

At the Rider University Art Gallery, "Russian Fiber Art" is a traveling exhibition of work by prominent Russian textile artists Natasha Muradova, Ludmila Uspenskaya, and Ludmila Aristova, curated and organized by Princeton fiber artist Joy Saville, with Marilyn Henrion and Yvonne Forman. The opening reception is Thursday, September 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. All three Russian artists will take part in a panel discussion in the gallery on Thursday, October 8, at 7:30 p.m., in conjunction with the show that continues to October 25.

Both Saville and Lindenfeld are working fiber artists as well as curators. Saville's big-pieced textile works were most recently featured in "Transcending the Surface," at the Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Her involvement in the three-artist Russian exhibition, which has also traveled to Virginia, Mays Landing, and Tokyo, grew out of her experience as a 1996 exhibitor in Moscow, where she was introduced to the work of that country's dynamic textile arts.

At the Ellarslie, American artists Pamela Becker, Nancy Moore Bess, Suellen Glasshausser, Kerr Grabowski, Nancy Koenigsberg, Patricia Malarcher, Chris Martens, Joan Pao, Joy Saville, Robin Schwalb, Betty Vera, Carol Westfall, and Erma Martin Yost are each represented by at least four works. "The variety of techniques and approaches by these artists shows the diversity and liberating spirit of today's textile art," says Lindenfeld. "The spirit of the show is closely related to what is going on in contemporary art. What is characteristic is that each person is working within the limitations of the material of their choice. These materials and the technique will shape -- that is both limit and inspire -- what the artist can create."

She says these contemporary artists are influenced both by currents in contemporary art and by the history and tradition of textiles. "I wanted the exhibit to include objects that were meticulously crafted and others that are very spontaneous and crazy, that are very broad in the sense of being textiles," she says, noting that the works encompass multi-media and three dimensional works, with photo transfer, found objects, and collage. "Some pieces here will make you laugh."

A member of the large, but informal New York-based Fiber Textile Study group for some seven years, Lindenfeld was invited to curate a show of New York and New Jersey fiber artists to complement the New York meeting of the Friends of Fiber Art International.

The Fiber Textile Study Group, founded in 1977, boasts about 100 members and meets once a month, frequently devoting its meetings to presentations by visiting artists. It also organizes exhibitions, two of which are featured in New York in September: "9x9x3" at the American Craft Museum, and "Squared Off," a members' show at the Phoenix Gallery in SoHo.

As a student at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in the 1940s, Lindenfeld worked with former Bauhaus textile artist Anni Albers and went on to spend 10 years as a textile designer in New York, before settling in Princeton with her family in 1959. She founded and taught in the weaving department at Middlesex County Community College for 12 years. She believes that fiber art today is fully accepted as high art.

In her notes to the Russian artists' show, Saville writes that "the depth and breadth of the Russian textile tradition, which includes woven tapestry, silk painting, batik, embroidery, fabric manipulation and a rich variety of needlework and embellishment techniques is exemplified by the work of the artists in this exhibition. Some of the parallels to American developments in the use of these techniques were startling."

"It will be interesting for people to see contemporary work both from the United States and Russia," says Lindenfeld. "Even though they are contemporary in spirit, the Russian works strike me as very different in character from the work that people are doing in this country. Coming out of a folk art tradition, they appear to be re-interpretations of that tradition. You could say that fiber art in the United States has never been burdened by tradition."

-- Nicole Plett

Invention & Diversity in Textile Art, Ellarslie, Trenton City Museum , Cadwalader Park, 609-989-3632. Opening reception. Friday, September 18, 6 to 8 p.m.

Russian Fiber Art, Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, 609-895-5588. Reception for three Russian artists. Free. Thursday, September 24, 4 to 7 p.m.

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