By: Amy Putansu
A Decade in Fiber is an exhibition with surprising technical breadth, especially considering the work is all made by recent alumni of a two-year college textiles program. The show is an invitational— the call was announced in January 2020 to the 50 graduates of Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts Fiber program between 2009 and 2019. Amy Putansu has lead this program since 2008 and organized this celebratory exhibition that was originally planned to welcome the Handweavers Guild of America’s Convergence attendees on a post-conference tour in July 2020.
By the time the conference was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, submissions had already been juried, and the decision was made to proceed with the show. In lieu of on-site visits, a digital catalog was designed and circulated to all those who had registered for the Convergence/Haywood tour. The show is installed in the 700 square foot Mary Cornwell Gallery of the Creative Arts building on the Haywood Community College campus in Clyde, North Carolina. Classes are being held this semester in-person, in small groups and with full safety protocol. Visitors to the gallery are welcome during operating hours with face-coverings required. A Decade in Fiber will close on December 1, 2020.
Most notable about the exhibit as a whole, is the range of textile techniques, as well as the mix of functional fabrics, wall art pieces and sculptural installation—all coexisting harmoniously together. Weaving is a strong focus at Haywood, and objects in this show combine handwovens with resist dying, stitching, quilting and garment construction. Appliqué, cross stitch, felting, rya knotting, and devoré are also found in exciting combinations.
Other techniques on display include indigo dyeing with various resist techniques. The digital catalog cover image showcases a charming piece employing rice-paste resist dyeing, one of a pair by Molly Erickson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sketches of Francis in Indigo I & II . They are companion pieces, each 12” x 12”, and are an homage to Francis Goodrich, inverting the positive and negative space of a traditional woven overshot pattern, yet achieved entirely through surface design.
“La Blanchisseuse” is a narrative, figurative work. The composition is a sketch created through stitched shibori of a woman in media res; she is a laundress beating the washing on a rock. The maker Helen Cadogan is from Trinidad, and since graduation in 2014, her focus has been to develop contemporary fiber arts in the Caribbean. When Helen was at Haywood, her focus was in both woven tapestry as well as indigo, and drew influence from Gasali Adeyemo.
Becky Juliette Duex came to Haywood from Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated in 2019. Her installation, R.D. 1 Box 389, is a tribute to her grandparents—both of which were craftsmen in their own right. Becky has felt she owes her pathway as a maker to her quilting grandmother and woodworking/coal mining grandfather. In this installation, Becky has translated a crocheted blanket by her grandmother into handwoven, hand dyed and quilted form. The coveralls are ice-dyed to evoke charcoal, dust and hard work, an original pattern stitched with handwoven twill fabric.
The students of HCC Professional Crafts never cease to amaze, in their depth, their integrity and devotion to the craft. When Convergence-Knoxville is held in 2022, another alumni exhibit will be held at the college once again, in celebration of the beauty and substance that Haywood graduates create.
Please check out the full digital program for A Decade of Fiber here: https://issuu.com/aputansu/docs/hcc_pro_crafts_fiber_program
Amy Putansu is a textile artist whose passion and area of expertise is weaving by hand, particularly multiple layer fabric and ondulé. She has led the Professional Crafts Fiber program at Haywood Community College since 2008. To see some of Amy Putansu’s work, please see her website: http://www.putansutextiles.com/ .