Corrections or additions?
This article by Sally Friedman was prepared for the March 19, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
The Raw Material of Art
Back in 1977, Marion Boulton Stroud had the germ of
an idea. Then the director of Prints in Progress, a workshop for inner-city
youth that offered training in print-making, Stroud was taken with
the new notion of allowing artists to stretch their esthetic muscles
and tackle new forms of expression.
With 5,000 square feet above a trousers store on Arch Street, and
a two-year lease, "Kippy" Stroud founded the Fabric Workshop,
now known as the Fabric Workshop and Museum. She still serves as the
artistic director of America’s only fabric museum, one that has attracted
some of the most distinguished artists of our time as a kind of artistic
The Fabric Workshop and Museum recently celebrated its 25th anniversary
with a gala that opened its commemorative show, "New Material
as New Media: The Fabric Workshop and Museum at 25 Years." Guest
curator for the exhibit is Anne d’Harnoncourt of the Philadelphia
Museum of Art.
In its earliest days, the Fabric Workshop and Museum worked largely
with silkscreen printing over fabric. But as artists themselves began
experimenting and expanding the vision new techniques and materials
emerged. That experimentation continues, and there is the sense that
this is a repository for unique contemporary art related to fabric,
rather than just a showcase for textiles.
"This is a very exciting time for us," said Sue Patterson,
a project coordinator and construction technician who loves to show
newcomers around the Fabric Workshop, now located on Cherry Street
on several floors encompassing 35,000 square feet and including a
remarkable archive of every single artist’s project from the Workshop’s
The anniversary exhibition is a rare chance for visitors to view the
vastly diverse works that involve fabric. "Often, people don’t
realize just how amazing fabric can be in the hands of artists,"
said Patterson as she guided a visitor past one of the more striking
areas of the exhibit, a display of all-wool Los Angeles Police Department
uniforms lining a wall in one of the galleries. The oversized uniforms,
hanging from an expanse of wall, create a dramatic tableau.
But that’s just the beginning. Visitors can also view
unusual contemporary works being shown for the first time like Bill
Viola’s "The Veiling," a video and sound installation in which
a dream-like quality is created by a series of sheer scrims, chronicling
the slow approach of a man and woman towards one another. Then there’s
Rachel Whiteread’s untitled work, a soft, amorphous mound that is
actually a white felt floor impregnated with polyurethane. Whiteread’s
big, innovative sculptures projects are known among the gems of the
Charles Saatchi collection in London.
More wandering takes visitors to Glenn Ligon’s "Skin Tight,"
a series of eight punching bags — yes, punching bags — awash
with stenciled words from "The Greatest," the film whose subject
was Mohammed Ali. Is this art? You decide.
There’s also British artist Christine Borland’s sculpture, "Bullet
Proof Breath," another anniversary exhibition standout. Created
by Borland of glass and spider-woven silk strong enough to be used
in bullet-proof vests, the piece looks like an extraordinary ice sculpture.
"Flea Circus" by Maria Fernanda Cardoso, is another show-stopper
that will convince skeptics that artists who work in textiles need
to be taken seriously. A reproduction of a 19th-century flea circus,
the huge work is the result of Cardoso’s extensive research into the
flea circus phenomenon, and is displayed complete with tent, arena,
tiny flea costumes, and props. A medley of fabrics is incorporated
into the piece, including taffeta, silk, rayon and polyester.
"The Workshop has allowed artists to immerse themselves in work
many have never done before," explains staffer Sue Patterson.
"Fabric becomes more than most people envision it to be."
This is certainly the case with Jim Hodges’ remarkable screen, "You,"
created entirely of pressed, overlapping silk flowers and exquisite
from both front and back, and with the late celebrated pop artist
Roy Lichtenstein’s 1979 silk shirt that could never be described as
subdued, with its flashes of dots and stripes on an off-white background.
One of the Workshop’s most touching stories involves its permanent
artist in residence, Willie Stokes. He arrived at the Workshop in
1977, without formal training but full of ideas about how to communicate
through whimsical creatures in an attempt to enlighten people about
"a world of animals that people don’t see everyday." His exuberant
prints on fabric are standouts in the current exhibition.
Along with its international apprenticeship programs, the Fabric Workshop
has outreach programs for children, and a long history of international
Whatever you once thought about fabric will be unalterably altered
when you survey the works of famous and emerging artists who transform
even ordinary cotton into works of rare beauty and vision.
The over 400 artists and the apprentices who have been nurtured by
the workshop owe the place a lot. In turn, we who can see what can
become of simple yardage owe those artists a debt of aesthetic gratitude.
If you want to take some creativity home, visit the workshop’s store
and carry off some material.
— Sally Friedman
13th Street, Philadelphia, 215-568-1111. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Free. To April 19. Www.fabricworkshopandmuseum.org
<B>The Professional Writers Alliance of Mercer County
invites high school journalists in New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania,
to submit their published articles to the Fifth Annual High School
Journalism Contest. Entries should be submitted by mail and postmarked
no later than April 15. Articles in news, feature, and editorial/op-ed
categories must be published between April 16, 2002, and April 15,
a PWA gala reception and concert, Saturday, May 31, at the Ellarslie
Museum, Trenton. Official entry forms and contest rules have been
sent to area high school English departments and newspaper faculty
advisors. Entry forms can also be obtained from contest chair Amy
Krause at email@example.com, or by calling 609-585-5085.
invites area writers and artists to submit their work for consideration
for September publication. Short fiction, poetry, essays, samplings
of novels, black and white line drawings and cartoons may be submitted
by Thursday, May. 1. Prose limit is 2,000 words; poetry limit is six
pieces. Material should not be previously published. Call 609-586-4800,
ext. 3326; email firstname.lastname@example.org. All those who submit material
will be notified about a month after the deadline regarding inclusion
in the journal, and will receive individual comments on their submissions.
Typed, double-spaced manuscripts should be sent with SASE to Robin
Schore, editor, The Kelsey Review, at Mercer County Community College,
PO Box B, Trenton, NJ 08690.
instruments to be repaired and given to metro-area school music programs.
Music & Arts Center, Mercer Mall, 3375 Route 1, Suite 150, Lawrenceville
is accepting instruments through Monday, March 31. Call 609-987-9595
for information or www.musicarts.com
who want to become involved with the 24-hour hotline. Sessions in
Ewing are offered on ten Tuesdays, morning and evening, from March
25 through May 27, or on four Saturdays, April 5, 12, 26, and May
3. Call 609-883-2880 for information or to register.
scheduled for Thursday, March 27, from 7 to 9 p.m., will show parents
and teachers of students with learning disabilities ways that they
can help their children learn and succeed in school. Three New Jersey
nonprofit organizations are sponsors of this event: The National Headquarters
of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), the New Jersey Unit
of RFB&D, and the New Jersey Branch of the International Dyslexia
Association. The symposium will take place at RFB&D’s National Headquarters,
20 Roszel Road in Princeton. Registration fee is $20.
The panel discussion features George Renwick, an educational consultant
and former director of pupil services; Dawn Holubiak and her teenage
daughter Tanya, who has dyslexia; Dr. Gordon Sherman of Newgrange
School, Hamilton. Peter Smith and Karen LeMorvan, RFB&D, will explain
RFB&D’s mission and the services it provides. A question-and-answer
period follows. Information at www.rfbd.org or call toll free 866-RFBD-585.
Craft & Vendor show on Sunday, March 30, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at
Holy Assumption School, 1290 Hornberger Avenue, Roebling. The fee
is $20 for the table and a raffle donation. Call Francine Kowalczyk
at 609-499-4861 or E-mail: email@example.com.
with prizes. "We’ve Got Your Number" is for Plainsboro residents
and Mercer County Library System reciprocal borrowers. Log onto the
library’s website (www.lmxac.org/plainsboro), access some of the databases
using their library card numbers, and answer 12 questions. Contest
sheet must be returned to the library (641 Plainsboro Road, Plainsboro
08536) by Tuesday, April 1; winner will be announced on Sunday, April
6. Call 609-275-2898.
the annual Sylvia Weiss Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Service
as a Volunteer. Nominees must at least 60 years of age and residents
of East Windsor. The deadline is Tuesday, April 15. 609-443-4000.
high school senior who are planning college majors and future careers
in special education or related disciplines. Applications, available
at high school guidance counselors, must be postmarked by Friday,
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