Art group holds its first fiber-art show
By: Margaret Butler
Norie Sanchez’s ties to quilting began when she was a young girl. “My parents were big quilters. At one point, we sewed and gifted 42 bed quilts over the course of two years,” she recalls.
After being exposed to the art of quiltmaking by her parents, Sanchez became fascinated with antique quilts of the 1930s, made from pieces of old feed-and-grain sacks with elaborate patterns — often florals or geometric designs — and Americana imagery. “It became so popular that a feed-sack quilt-pattern book was published,” Sanchez remarks.
Today, Sanchez spends more time in watercolor but doesn’t hesitate in praising the versatility of fiber art — which isn’t limited to quilts and rugs. The genre includes everything that’s created with a natural or synthetic fiber, such as fabric or yarn. “Fiber art is wonderful to work with; it’s malleable, renewable, and readily available. If you have some fiber and a pair of scissors, the possibilities are endless,” says Sanchez.
She is the Exhibits Chair for the upcoming Focus on Fiber Show put on by the expanding Art League of Henderson County. Everything from doll making to hooked work, knitting and beading, to embroidery and dyeing, will be on display. To participate in the show, fiber artists submitted examples of their work to a committee. If selected, they can share up to two pieces of art at the exhibit, not all of which will be for sale.
Participant Sharon Richmond says, “We’re excited to show that there’s a community of fiber artists here in Hendersonville. The more fiber artists we have here, the more chances for people to explore it.” Multimedia artist Jo-Ann Jensen agrees; she moved to the area five years ago after hearing of the mountains’ artist-friendly reputation. The influx of newcomers is one reason the Art League has almost tripled its membership in the last two years.
“To be a member has been a breath of fresh air,” reflects Jensen. “It’s wonderful to watch people working in other mediums and seeing the beauty and potential to maybe put some of their techniques into your own art.”
In addition to showcasing their pieces, Sanchez, Richmond, and Jensen see the Fiber Show as an opportunity to validate the medium, which typically receives less acknowledgment because of its homespun origins.
“Quilting and fiber work was traditionally done by women in homes for a purpose, whether that be a quilt for warmth, a garment to wear, or a rug on the floor,” says Jensen. “Oftentimes, old ragged quilts would be tucked into new ones as padding,” Sanchez adds.
No one can argue the practicality of such items. But the ladies agree wholeheartedly: Fiber art is fine art, and it merits more attention. It’s not just a useful labor of love — it’s an art form to appreciate, elevate, and admire.
The Art League of Henderson County hosts the Focus on Fiber Show Wednesday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 18 at Art on 7th (330 7th Ave. East, Hendersonville). Opening reception is Friday, Sept. 16, 5-7pm. For more information, see artleague.net, “Art League of Henderson County” on Facebook, or call 828-490-5639.