High Fiber premieres an impressive array of fiber pieces never before seen in the museum’s galleries. RAM’s largest gallery space is transformed with larger than life-size sculptures by significant contemporary artists who have established reputations working with materials such as fabric, metal wire, and cedar. Created with techniques such as weaving and knotting, and touching on a variety of subjects—including metaphysics, the human condition, and the natural world—the works featured in this show delight the eye and engage the mind.
In the 1970s, decorative and conceptual textiles (created by people with training in weaving, design, and sculpture) were being produced on a large scale, literally. Less utilitarian and more sculptural, these fiber pieces were often three-dimensional and displayed individually or in groups as installations and environments. This artistic exploration coincided with a surge in the hobbyist interest in fiber processes, such as knotting, macramé, and other non-loom-based techniques. The natural quality of materials, such as sisal and raw wool, were emphasized. As time has moved forward, contemporary artists have expanded these investigations, sometimes combining traditional textile techniques with synthetic materials, as they explore personal, social, political, and cultural topics.
High Fiber includes artists who have been working with textiles for decades, pushing the boundaries of the media and offering different ways for understanding the materials. For example, Rebecca Medel uses the ancient technique of knotted netting, linen, ramie, and cotton to create grids that, through their shape and structure, reference “celestial maps, starlight, and galaxies.” With her massive 1000 Kannons—comprised of 95 panels installed in a 32 x 27 foot space—Medel explores time and space metaphysics, as well as symbolism.