Browsing the catalogs

Written by Jean Thomas

Ever so often I browse through my collection of Fiberart Intertational catalogs, starting with 2001. I joined the Guild in 1999 or thereabouts. So here are a few statistics and observations. The 2001 and 2004 catalogs were a modest 6×9 inches with 116 and 88 pages respectively. In 2007 the catalog size grew to 8 1/2 x 11 inches with128 pages.

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Memories of Barbara Luderowski

Written by Jean Thomas

Memorial tributes to Barbara Luderowski continue to come from many sources–locally, nationally and internationally.

“Barbara was an artist—unique, highly perceptive and intelligent, feisty,—and always on the advance. May her creative, pioneering spirit continue to guide the Mattress Factory.” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

In a 2002 interview with a Post-Gazette writer, Barbara said, “Art deals with the spiritual side, the gentler side of life.” The reporter went on to write:
“The woman who is totally devoted to the gentler side of life is a complicated mix of gruffness and compassion, anger and humor. Her gruffness is so pronounced that she’s been likened to a military commander.
“She’s like Patton,” said Thomas Sokolowski, then director of The Andy Warhol Museum. “We wouldn’t say that Patton was a sweet charming guy, ‘Father Knows Best.’ But he was a wonderful general, and he knew how to do it. Barbara’s the same way.

I first met Barbara in the 1970s when I was exploring Pittsburgh’s Northside thanks to Pittsburgh History and Landmarks.  Someone in their office mentioned that an old mattress factory had been purchased recently.  To find it I first had to locate the alley, Sampsonia Way (this was before Mayor Sophie Masloff made sure all streets AND alleys were signed.)  At that time the building had a loading dock, and as I approached there was this rather stern looking woman in jeans was standing on the loading dock eyeing me.  When I told her I was curious about the building and had heard rumors it was to be an art gallery of sorts, she welcomed me, gave me a hand up the dock and proceeded to take me on a mini tour of the place via the elevator.  The elevator was an open sided freight elevator, not for the faint hearted.  After the Mattress Factory obtained their non profit status, one of the stipulations was that there must be a Board of Directors.  I was one of the early Board members.   We mostly listened while Barbara laid out her plans, some of which seemed quite   audacious.  Many of us never dreamed that the Mattress Factory would achieve national and international fame.  Barbara made it happen!

Barbara’s vision, tenacity and vast experience will be sorely missed by many, including those of us involved in Fiberart International 2019 who had looked forward eagerly to her participation as juror.

Jean Thomas

Barbara Luderowski

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Barbara Luderowski.

We invite you to read more about her life and creative spirit here.

We will have information about our jurying soon.

My work is…….

As fiber artists  complete their entry forms for Fiberart International 2019 there is always that blank to fill out for an “Artist Statement.” For some it’s an easy assignment.  For others it poses a real challenge.  So here is a sample of opening phrases gleaned from catalogs for previous Internationals.
My work is a response to——–
Joanna Donchatz – FI13 artist
My work is a response to my family history and homeplace of Appalachia. The weavings are composed like collages from photographs, text, documents, drawings, and maps. My grandfather’s coal mining experience led me to reflect on its impact. The fractal-like image of the lung is a symbol of his illness and references veins, fingerprints, streams, trees, roots, mountain ranges, cracks, faults, and fractures. They map the destruction both of the landscape and of my grandfather’s health. The traditional quilt motif is an important reoccurring element as a metaphor for the landscape of Appalachia, comfort, and family.

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Down Fiberart International Memory Lane

One of our long-time members was doing some deep housecleaning recently and came upon a Fiberart International treasure trove from the past—a 20th century prospectus, invitation, catalog, and review. I was delighted to get my hands on these juicy historical treats. They conjure lost memories and significant milestones in Fiberart International’s history.

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Behind the Scenes at Fiberart International

Did you know that Fiberart International has been happening for over 50 years? It began as Stitchery International and evolved to include all fiber-related mediums. Twenty-three exhibitions later, FI has been pivotal in exhibiting innovative work from around the world. Do you wonder just what it takes to produce an exhibition of this stature?
You know the old adage, “Many hands make light work.” In the case of Fiberart International, it’s many hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, ears, brains!

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SYNERGY: Fiberart International 2019 is off and running!

by Mary Towner

A few weeks ago, the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh held its kickoff meeting for Fiberart International 2019. Setting the tone with her signature enthusiasm, FI Director Rae Gold presented with lots of information and more than an armload of volunteer sign-up clipboards.
Much of the FI2019 groundwork has been laid. We have three outstanding jurors; the prospectus and calls for entry have gone out; jurying has been structured; events are solidifying.
With five previous Fiberart Internationals under my belt, I was familiar with this meeting’s scenario, but each International begins fresh and new. As the meeting moved along and Rae explained the myriad of tasks and bodies needed, I was once again struck by two things: a) The sheer magnitude of this undertaking, and b) the unflagging commitment and enthusiasm of our Guild members. As often happens, I felt proud of our organization.
Then my mind went back to the beauty of those previous Internationals, and I felt gratitude and respect for past and future artists who share their work with us and our audience. A Christmas-morning type anticipation filled me over viewing the 2019 International artwork.
Then it hit me: Synergy.
Synergy is defined as, The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their separate effects. Or more simply, The creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. More than mere cooperation or combined effort, Fiberart International becomes something magical that couldn’t happen without both its artists and its producers.
I for one am looking forward with great anticipation to the synergistic undertaking of Fiberart International 2019!


Focus On: Beading, one stitch at a time

Welcome to the last entry in our August, 2015 blog series celebrating the final days to enter your artwork for consideration into FI2016! We’re highlighting different artist’s interpretations of fiber art that we’ve loved seeing in past Internationals.

According to textile scholar Elizabeth Wayland Barber (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years), some of the very oldest evidences of fiber we know about are the strings and sinews that were used to link pieces of bone and stone together: the very first beads.

Textile artists have come a long way from stringing shells together. We’ve developed embroidering, weaving, looming, stitching: all ways of bringing thousands of glittering separate pieces together to create a work of art. Flat or sculptural, as an ornament for fabric or as a dense, shimmering fabric of its own, beadwork is a significant part of the fiberart tradition.

Urban Artifact Undulation
Annette Tacconelli, “Urban Artifact: Undulation” featured in FI2007. Found metal, beads, and thread; weaving with beads, loom construction and assemblage. 6.5″ x 1″ x 8″

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Focus On: Video

Welcome to our ongoing August, 2015 blog series celebrating the final days to enter your artwork for consideration into FI2016! We’re highlighting different artist’s interpretations of fiber art that we’ve loved seeing in past Internationals.

OK, really? Video? Wasn’t the last post bad enough with the lottery tickets and the glass? Where’s the fiber art?

Hear me out. It won’t take long!

Ritual often makes use of fabric. Maybe it’s a piece of special clothing adorning the body, like a baby’s christening gown, or a cloth that’s employed in ceremony, like a chuppah at a Jewish wedding. Or the bit of lace veil that both conceals and reveals a bride’s face in many traditions.

Video is a wonderful medium for recording the act of ritual itself, and April Dauscha uses it to great effect when she films the use of her unique handmade needle-run lace artifacts. April uses her custom-made ceremonial garments to stage intimate personal rituals of penance, contrition, dressing, and undressing.

Act of Contrition still
April Dauscha, “Act of Contrition” (still). Featured in FI2013. Video; handmade needle-run lace veil

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