Discover some of the most innovative and beautiful works created with felt in a new exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum.
Explorations in Felt features 29 diverse works created by 25 artists from around the world.
The exhibition had unique origins. The Fiber Art Network and Fiber Art Now magazine approached the Hunterdon Art Museum about hosting an exhibition as a companion to their print exhibition Felt: Fiber Transformed.
“We wanted to feature art and non-traditional wearables that best represented the incredible depth and breadth of work being created using felt with an emphasis on exhibiting high-quality works of contemporary art, craft and design,” said Marjorie Frankel Nathanson, executive director of the Hunterdon Art Museum.
Resurgence in Felt Art
In recent years, felting has undergone a revival of sorts as contemporary artists rediscover the material’s versatility, durability and malleability.
“Felt has come a long way from simple scarves and kitschy flower brooches to the stunning creations you see today,” said Vinitha Sara, who served as a juror for the print exhibition. “These artists are pushing the boundaries with their ability to manipulate fiber, thus taking felting from an age-old traditional craft to the forefront of fiber art.”
Fiber artist Dawn Waters drew inspiration for her piece, Olga Was Never a Wallflower, after seeing photographs of women wearing large and impressive traditional Slavic ceremonial headdresses made of paper.
“I had been making needle-felted paintings for about two years when I created Olga,” Waters said. “Her face was created with one felting needle and wool, and her floral crown was made using the wet-felting method, with warm soapy water agitating the fibers so they meld. Her blouse is hand-stitched fabric and the background is cotton batik. The batik has no correlation to the Slavic headdress theme, I simply thought that fabric was beautiful.
Waters enjoyed putting floral crowns on her needle-felted ladies so much that she began putting them on a variety of subjects, including Keith Richards and Dolly Parton.
Another example of felt’s diversity can be seen in Rachel Montroy’s mixed-media sculptures, which offer personal meditations on the beauty of natural forms and their growth both physically and metaphorically. In works such as Ascend and A Fragile Realm, both appearing in HAM’s exhibition, Montroy’s works are hybrids of flowers, seeds, bulbs, fruit, and succulents, all combined to provoke contemplation.
“They are a delicate synthesis of botanical forms that are in various stages of maturation,” she notes. “I enjoy playing with certain nuances within these elements, like the tension created by a swollen berry or the way a stem bends as it reaches toward the sun.”
Artists with work in the HAM exhibition also include: Jacobo Alonso, Ellen Bakker, Kim Buchheit, Eva Camacho-Sanchez, Chantal Cardinal, Kristin Colombano, Heike Fink, Anna Goransson, Sugandha Gupta, Linda Hirschman, Shelley Jones, Hyunsoo Kim, Ryan Lytle, Pamela MacGregor, Katherine McClelland, Margaret-Ann Miller, Kim Paxson, Kimberly Pulli, Teresa Shields, Becky Stevens, Karen Thurman, Cathy Vigor and Cynthia Zyzda.
HAM to Offer Felting Workshops
The Museum is offering a host of special Visiting Artists Workshops concurrently with its felt exhibition: Felted Animal Portraits with artist Katherine McClelland on Feb. 15-16; Textural Felting with artist Eva Camacho on March 28-29; and Discover Wet Felting with artist Linda Brooks Hirschman on April 4. More information can be found here.
The exhibition runs until April 19, 2020.
Image Credit: Kimberly Pulli, Emily’s Nightmare, 2019, merino wool, silk chiffon, handmade prefelts, tussah silk, MC1, viscose, yarn, nuno and felted, needle felt and inclusions, 24 in. X 22 in., Courtesy of the artist.