Textile Center cuts loose


To the uninitiated eye, shibori artistry is based on familiar forms — a quilt, a scarf, a wall hanging, a fabric flower. But the “Shibori Cut Loose” exhibit in the Joan Mondale Gallery at the Textile Center is anything but ordinary.

From a nine-yard-long gossamer sweep of pearl and indigo suspended from the ceiling to the subtle brilliance of Sue Cavanaugh’s best-of-show piece, “Kinship,” the works by 21 international artists invite you to not only appreciate but to wonder, “How did they do that?”

Shibori Cut Loose

The Textile Center

3000 University Ave. SE

Through July 19

A two-Thursday shibori class will run Aug. 21 and Aug. 28, 6–9 p.m. at the Textile Center.
Gallery and shop hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, visit www.textilecentermn.org or call 612-436-0464.

Tie and smash

Shibori, simply put, is the eighth-century Japanese genesis of what one might fondly consider hippie tie-dye. But this ancient form employs more than rubber bands and plastic buckets of dye on the screened-in porch at summer camp.

It is properly referred to as “shaped-resist dyeing” and manipulates fabric one or more times using a bevy of techniques, with the goal being to prevent some areas from picking up the dye.

Cloth is first “shaped” with stitches, gathers, folds, pleats, tucks, plucks or pinches, and is then secured around such things as poles, beans, pebbles, even PCV pipe, with knots, clamps, or loops, in whatever combination of variables the artist fathoms. Fabric close to a binding implement does not take, or “resists,” the dye. The cloth then is immersed in a dye bath and later unbound.

Animal, plant and synthetic fibers respond differently to heat and dye, so the physical and chemical properties of the cloth are part of this art form’s alchemy. The heat process is such that “the fabric remembers the shape,” said Gallery Manager Sheryl Schwyhart.

This binding, dyeing and releasing treatment results in an evolution of colors, patterns and shapes, and, sometimes, the fabric’s transformation from two dimensions into three.

The exhibition’s name, “Cut Loose,” is a play on words signifying this unbinding, said Becka Rahn, the center’s education coordinator.

Cutting loose

The gallery show displays work from an international field of artists. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional art in the forms of wall and ceiling hangings, tapestries, installations, quilted pieces, clothing, and clever and curious sculptures make up the exhibit.

A wide variety of shibori techniques are represented, such as “itajime,” a clamp-resist technique demonstrated in a preconference workshop by Yoshiko Wada, the symposium’s keynote speaker. Wada, a Japanese native, is an author, artist, curator, and teacher of this ancient art form, and is currently president of the World Shibori Network.

The center’s shibori symposium was held the first week of June and consisted of several classes and workshops offered by a field of international presenters. Last December, in conjunction with the planned symposium, a call for entries for an accompanying exhibition sounded around the shibori world.

Artists could submit up to two pieces. The 60 entries were juried by Wada and Ana Lisa Hedstrom, a shibori artist and symposium presenter whose own work reflects contemporary applications of the art form. From these entries, 25 pieces from 21 artists make up the show.

Over 200 fiber-art enthusiasts attended the exhibit’s June 6 opening reception; Wada’s keynote address that evening drew 150 participants.

Best of show

Cavanaugh’s Kinship was awarded best-of-show in this juried exhibition. The quilted piece started life as a large rectangle of white cotton sateen. It now beckons the eye to follow around in a field of asymmetrical circles, curves, and waves of blended green, gold and blue hues.

Seed stitches of red and gold peep out of the fabric, further engaging the imagination.

“The application of overdye is amazing,” said Schwyhart.

Cavanaugh explains her piece in a book of artist’s statements: “Using stitch-resistant shibori, the stitches are removed after dyeing. But their one-time existence leaves a permanent mark, much the way a fossil’s pattern reveals the existence of a form that once existed.”