Clay and fiber may not be similar in appearance but it’s the craftsmanship and spirit that goes into each work that brings the two materials together in an exhibit at the San Luis Obispo Art Center.
Central Coast Craftsmakers, an organization formed to raise awareness for craft disciplines and as a venue to meet other craft-oriented artists, is presenting Surface and Form: Explorations in Fiber and Clay. The artwork is being showcased for the entire month of May. Four local artists were chosen by the organization to showcase their creations in the McMeen Gallery room.
Featured fiber artist Myla Collier said the weaving business isn’t as profitable as it once was and has become much harder to find material.
“Back when I started doing this in the ’70s weaving was very popular and people were using them as wall hangings and I had a little business and an employee,” she said. “I’ve sold some small things but people are just not that familiar with weaving. In the ’70s when everybody’s brother was weaving people knew what weaving was about.”
The artists chosen are known in their respective areas and bring different backgrounds and interests to the creative process of each piece.
Another featured fiber artist, Marny Cardin, said she dabbled with fiber work at an early age.
“I didn’t have television when I grew up in Singapore so we read and we drew; we made puzzles and things and I always was knitting for my teddy bears,” Cardin said. “I’ve been sewing since I was very young and I always wanted to spend more time doing it.”
The exhibit features five of her hand-hooked rugs and a collection of three smaller needlework miniatures. Each rug tells a story by featuring people, animals and scenery.
Her design ideas and quotes come from the journals she has been writing in for years. One rug in particular has ‘Listen to many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe’ stitched along with an image of a woman canoeing through rapids.
“Katherine Hepburn used to say ‘paddle your own canoe’ and I wrote it down in my journal only 12 years ago and thought ‘one day I am going to make a rug of that.’ And I made it for this show,” Cardin said.
She is proud of her rugs but thinks her true talent is making miniature needle-sewn landscapes. The exhibit features a series of three that are roughly 4 inches by 3 inches.
“I am in collections and people collect my work,” she said. “So I know that they know what they are doing when they buy them because they are quite expensive,” she said.
Her work has been featured in the Freehand Gallery in Los Angeles for the past nine years in several magazines.
Collier started her work at Parsons School of Design in New York but has since transitioned into hooking rugs due to its relaxing nature.
“It’s therapy for me,” Collier said. Other people go to analysts and I go to the loom. It is really an addiction whether you like to weave or not, and I do,” Collier said.
One of her most colorful rugs on display is an image of a vibrantly colored snake. The title of the rug is “Radical Reptile.”
“My son went through a period when he was 10 or 12 when every word out of his mouth was rad. Everything was rad, radical,” she said. “So I decided that I would do a rad reptile.”
Don Frith contributed five teapots to the exhibit. He has been crafting the clay pots for the past 60 years and has 20 to 30 different designs.
Bob Nichols, an instructor of ceramics and sculpture at Allan Hancock College ,has two pieces at the exhibit that he said represent the notion of having a sense of place in the world and a reflection of a life’s journey.
“The art center continues to present a rich variety of art forms not just local work; there are national exhibitions currently in place and they are well worth the time spent looking at how other people approach the creative process,” Nichols said.
The exhibit is free to the public with a suggested $2 donation.