With Fiberart International 2022 coming up we wanted to check on artists who participated in previous exhibitions, see what they are up to now and how participating in the exhibition impacted them. If you are a previous Fiberart International participant and would like to update the community on the happenings in your life, please contact Katie Bulova at email@example.com
Written by Katie Bulova
Peter Clouse is a fiber artist hailing from Saginaw, Michigan. He was a participant in Fiberart International 2016.
His practice implements ecological frugality: his paradigm is to create art “from nothing.” He calls this approach to material gathering democratic. Everyone has access, and everyone can create. Peter uses found, discarded, or donated materials in his works.
Peter’s pieces talk about society and what society rejects and throws away.
What is waste is reclaimed and re-conceptualized. Inputs are organized and elevated to create functional pieces of art. For example, wire weavings become site-specific structures that allude to spider webs in form and function.
On closer inspection, inputs include discarded wire from family VCRs, audio receiver connections, and stereo components. Viewers must ask themselves: how many are discarded? How can we live differently?
When Peter participated in the Fiberart International, he had recently completed studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art. FI was an opportunity to build a following for his art practice. Creating on a larger scale for his submission also increased his confidence in the stories that his pieces told.
In 2020, we all gained another story to tell- that of covid. Peter’s tale, like all of ours, had been full of next steps and life in progress. In March 2020, Peter and his wife, Melissa Eve, had just finished renovations to their brick-and-mortar art store. Melissa and Peter are business, life, and art partners. They use each other to test ideas and to make sense of the world around them.
The store, The Brave Wimp, is committed to community giving, implementing a policy of donating 15% of profits to local organizations. Located in Ferndale, Michigan, The Brave Wimp’s mission is eco-based art products that build the community locally. Peter talks of their mission as “making their community right”. When shutdowns were implemented, their entire store and their livelihood were moved to a web-based platform. Masks and scrub caps were put in production. They designed their own fabric that essentially told their grief and hopes for the world around them.
When in-person shopping returned to Michigan, Peter was the one who worked in the store, while Melissa work production. Peter and Melissa were also newly expecting a child. And when their son was born in October, they brought him home in isolation. Introducing Oscar to their world and to those who have loved them the longest and the best became politicized by a new category: who chose to vaccinate and who didn’t.
The cultural milestones like childbirth and new businesses that we traditionally celebrate as a community have been shifted this year. I asked Peter what stories he will tell Oscar of his birth year. While Peter has been writing Oscar letters for the future, he didn’t know what he would share or what would be rewritten. How do you write of friends lost, or how inner strength is gained?
How do you articulate endurance, reinvention, and greater commitment to community and family?
These themes are now part of the beginnings of Oscar’s story; they also are the themes of Peter’s work, and these themes are pieces of everyone’s story. We are all remnants of what existed before 2020. How will we reinvent and repurpose life?
Art this year was about survival. Peter created a family and a legacy. He created opportunities for his community; he created a future for his son, Oscar. I don’t think that art gets better or more potent than that. Peter works stand to remind us of what we threw away in 2020 and what we have gained.