Traveling as much as I do now for my job, I’ve learned to appreciate the kindness of strangers.
Take Donna, for example, the Boston waitress who gave me sight-seeing recommendations this past weekend—one of which was a new show at the Institute for Contemporary Art.
Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of contemporary art. But that was before she mentioned that this show was “Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – Present.” She had me at “fiber.” Knitting, specifically.
Hooked & Twisted is the show’s apropos tagline . . . because that’s exactly what I was.
According to the ICA website, “Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present is the first exhibition in 40 years to examine the development of abstraction and dimensionality in fiber art from the mid-twentieth century through to the present.” The 50 collected works represent 34 artists from around the world.
The work is indeed as diverse as its sources.
As a knitter, I often forget that the goal of all fiber work isn’t functionality. I’m so conditioned to create things that can be worn. It’s refreshing to be reminded that fiber-based crafts can decorate spaces, too.
Across the exhibit’s various rooms, I lost count of the types of stitches and variety of techniques displayed. Knitting, crocheting, needle felting, weaving, tatting and other techniques were all represented.
Some pieces told a well-developed story. Others left quite a bit to the imagination. All were monuments to the ingenuity and craft of their creators—not to mention their patience. Many of the pieces involved complicated strand-by-strand production processes that took a year to eighteen months to complete.
Perhaps more than the time and craftsmanship, however, it was the vision that inspired me most about the artistry of Hooked and Twisted.
After all, you can’t buy a pattern for these creations. Bringing them to life starts with a head full of vision and a blank piece of paper, available fibers and the tools needed to shape them.
What would happen if I had the courage to go “off pattern” and experiment with some of the knitted creations I see in my head on a regular basis?
I left the Institute for Contemporary Art with new answers to this question and a whole lot of courage to try them. (Pattern books, you’re not invited to this party.)
If fiber-based arts have “hooked and twisted” you as much as they have me . . . and you find yourself on the upper East Coast . . . I hope you’ll stop by the ICA for this wonderful show.
Oh—and don’t forget to drop into Legal Seafood at Long Wharf. Ask for Donna. She’ll be happy to compare notes with you on the show while she serves up some awesome seafood.
“Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – Present” runs now through January 4th. Get more information at the Institute for Contemporary Art.