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Show redefines fiber art

By Joleen Oshiro


Hawaii Craftsmen's biennial "Fiber Hawaii" attracts a gamut of fine artists inspired by the juried show's openness toward mixing traditional media with nontraditional technique, and vice versa. Pieces in this exhibition, for instance, include "woven" glass and wood.

And that's exactly the point: "To push the boundaries of fiber art," said Liz Train, Craftsmen member and organizer of the exhibit.


» On exhibit: Through Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays

» Where: Honolulu Museum of Art School, 1111 Victoria St.

» Information: 532-8741 or visit www.hawaiicraftsmen.org


"Fiber Hawaii" accepts all types of fiber art. Innovative pieces such as a gourd marked with pyrography to look woven shares gallery space with traditional work such as a woven scarf and a lauhala hat.

Train invited international textile artist Susan Taber Avila to jury this year's show. Avila is a professor of fashion and textile design at University of California, Davis.

"The most interesting aspect of the show for me comes from artists who reference Hawaii in some way, who provide a sense of place and culture," she said.

Of the 96 works she selected from 130 submissions, "some are overtly traditional, some are interesting, some are beautifully crafted," she said. "In the end, I picked works that speak to me and I respond to."

Avila gave out eight awards "for pieces that go a little further." A ceramic work by Yoko Haar that resembles coiled ribbons took the show's top award, the Indru and Gulab Watumull Award of Excellence. Bud Spindt's glass sculpture featuring an orb in a basket, encased in glass, earned the Pegge Hopper award.

Avila said she also took on the role of curator.

"Some of the works that didn't make it into the show were good work, but I was trying to strike a balance. It was a more holistic approach," she said.

Train was president of Hawaii Craftsmen in 1982 when she thought up the concept of "Fiber Hawaii." It was an era of expansion for the medium, she said.

"At the time, my own work was challenging the boundaries of fiber art. Prior to that, fiber art was flat weaving, textiles, traditional stuff," she said.

Train sent letters to sculptors and ceramists asking them to accept the challenge, and many did. It was all about trying to elevate the whole medium from the realm of craft to fine art, she said.

"Other fiber shows in Hawaii feature handweavers and quilts, but they're specific to those media," Train said. "Our show is one of the few that opens up the boundaries. If a juror thinks it's fiber art, it's in!"

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