Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Small Expressions 2018: Juried Small Format Fiber

While attending Convergence in Reno I had the chance to view HGA's annial juried exhibit of small format work called Small Expressions.   (Last week I wrote about the American Tapestry Alliance's unjuried small format show limited to tapestry; this is a different exhibit.)  Work could not exceed 15" in any dimension, and had to use one or more fiber techniques.  Virginia Vogel juried the show this year and as in the past, works that broke with conventional fiber practice were prominent.  Pieces by 28 artists from all over the world were selected.  (While I have been selected for this show in the past, I did not enter this year.)

The exhibit was on view in the Wilbur D. May Museum and beautifully displayed in a white gallery of just the right, intimate size for such a show.  I found myself drawn, especially in retrospect, to the works which departed from the expected and which had relief or three-dimensional aspects.

This piece, Reflection, by Rebecca L. Smith won First Place.  Rebecca makes the wedge weave technique her own by incorporating seed beads and by using wire to shape the piece into a relief at least an inch deep.

Rebecca L. Smith, Reflection, 12" x 12".  wool, other fibers, seed beads, wire

Rebecca L. Smith, detail Reflection

While this piece by Jenny Schu entitled Leaf Me Alone 1 also incorporates seed beads, I was captivated by the expert weaving of text in different fonts, even backwards text.

Jennifer Schu, Leaf Me Alone 1, 10" x 15", hand-dyed rayon, glass seed beads
Jennifer Schu, detail  Leaf Me Alone 1
(Apologies that the color in the detail shot is off; the first photo is more accurate.)

This piece called text and manuscripts to mind in an abstract way.  It's Silences, #4 by Julie Lambert, woven of paper thread.  I love the simple elegance of this work, the way in which the materials and technique carry the entire weight of the design and concept.  It's beautifully displayed, but I wish I could tell whether it is bound in the center like a book or is a scroll.

Julie Lambert, Silences, #4, 15" x 4", paper thread

Julie Lambert, detail Silences, #4,

I was fascinated to study Deanna Deeds' piece Dialogue, woven of cotton and nylon filament, trying to figure out how it was done.  It seems to me to be an investigation into the very nature and structure of weaving.

Deanna Deeds, Dialogue, 15" x 15", cotton, nylon filament
Deanna Deeds, detail  Dialogue

As I write this I'm noticing I--and perhaps the juror--have a bias toward relief and 3D work.  In her tapestry Abstract Earth, Penny Collins expertly handles shading so that there is a teasing, now-you-see-it, now-you-don't illusion of depth when one steps back.  What seems to be a flat surface hints at topographical relief.

Penny Collins, Abstract Earth, 13" x 13", wool, cotton

Penny Collins, detail, Abstract Earth
Finally, two fully three-dimensional pieces showed that fiber can be every bit as sculptural as other, sturdier materials.  In this piece of crumpled handwoven fabric Jessica Pinsky has frozen a momentary gesture--of frustration?  Weaving can do that to a person!

Jessica Pinsky, Anxiety Series 1, 11" x 8", silk warp, cotton weft, resin

Jessica Pinsky, detail Anxiety Series 1
Aviva Peres,  Double Reason to Celebrate,
8" x 8", vintage cotton, vegetal stiffener, wire thread

Aviva Peres,  Double Reason to Celebrate
This piece truly does feel like a celebration, with its coils and tendrils exploding in all directions.  I love how it looks so different from different angles.  There are continuing surprises and discoveries for the eye to make.

Wherever you are this summer, I hope you have the chance to take in some exciting art! 


  1. Thank you for all of your interesting posts about Convergence, here and on Instagram. I was sorry to miss it this year, so I really appreciate all you shared with us!

    1. You are welcome, Nancy! It’s been my pleasure.