Monday, February 6, 2017

Diverse Textile Arts are on Display in the Textile Center's Annual Member Show

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

The Textile Center's annual member show, A Common Thread, features works from 136 artists, showcasing the skill and ingenuity of the member artists. Members were invited to submit one work each, with no restrictions as to theme or techniques. The resulting display offers delightful variety as it meanders throughout the public spaces, greeting a visitor almost immediately upon entering from the parking lot into the back hall; it lines the walls of the central hallway as you walk past the library, and fills the gallery at the front. 

Here are just a few of the items on display, including two from HandmadeMN members, Margaret Mousley and Mary Pow, which begin and end the selections included here. I highly recommend you go and see all of them for yourself. The show continues until Feb. 25 at the Textile Center of Minnesota, 3000 University Ave., Minneapolis. 

Rounding the corner from the back to the center hallway, one encounters this elegant dress and jacket (directly behind the dress) designed and made by HandmadeMN team member Margaret Mousely.

Margaret Mousley with the dress and jacket she designed 
and made, currently on display at the Textile Center. 
(Photo provided by Margaret.)

“I made this dress for my niece because she was the bridesmaid for my daughter’s wedding," says Margaret. "It was a Fall wedding, so I used silk velvets in autumn colors. Her husband and his family came from Korea, and I wanted to include that culture. There was a Korean fashion show at the Mall of America that year, so I went to see it. The quilted jacket, shorter bodice, long skirt, and color bands are my interpretation of it. I incorporated this into the wedding dress and the flower girls’  dresses also.

“I  asked my niece if I could borrow her dress for the Common Thread show, and she sent it back to me from California.”

Margaret's business is designing travel wear, which she sells through her website,, and via her Etsy shop, Margaret Mousley Designs, which also includes a couple of unique purses she made from recycled fabrics.

Most of the works in the show were not functional items, like clothing, but intended for display. Some used quilting techniques, from piecing to topstitching and applique, like this wall hanging by Emily Chesick, titled "Autumn Tree II."

"Autumn Tree II" by Emily Chesick

Another pieced and quilted work is "Good Will Hunting" by Nancy Condon. This one was made with fused piecing and machine stitching, and incorporates "found fabrics." 

Good Will Hunting by Nancy Condon

In fact, I noticed a common theme in may of the works on display, which was the use of found objects and repurposed materials, sometimes called upcycling. Below, this mixed media work by Tina Hughes includes an assortment of natural found objects, which were all listed on the tag. I enjoyed looking for the items, like a visual scavenger hunt.

"Natural Triptych" by Tina Hughes

Detail from "Natural Triptych." Can you spot the feather?

"Lest We Forget" by Fred Amram delivers a powerful message with bold materials, including barn wood and barbed wire framing a skillfully woven tapestry.

"Lest We Forget" by Fred Amram

Detail and tag for Amram's piece.

"Lost/Found Component II" by Marjorie Fedyszyn playfully incorporates several random found objects into a large quirky and exuberant ovoid attached to an asymmetrical crosslike canvas backing.

"Lost/Found Component II" by Marjorie Fedyszyn

Detail of "Lost/Found," with tag

Glen Riddle wins the "Most fun use of found objects" prize with "Can't See the Forest for the Trees," which pushes the boundaries of what counts as textile arts in a very entertaining way. Even his tag listing the components has a playful twist.

"Can't See the Forest for the Trees," by Glen Riddle.

Detail from "Forest"
But let's not get too carried away with silliness, fun though it is. Other works exhibited more understated beauty as well as obvious skill, such as "Perimeter 143.5," by Wynne Mattila.

"Perimeter 143.5" by Wynne Mattila

Detail and tag from "Perimeter"
In "Bringing the Outside In," Wen Redmond used digital printing along with painting and photography on silk to create a visual story that looks like somebody peeking out between curtains. Or are they peeking in?

"Bringing the Outside In" by Wen Redmond

Detail and tag for "Bringing the Outside in"

Another detail from the center of the work.

And now we come round to another HandmadeMN member, Mary Pow, and another example of exquisitely designed and crafted functional art, with "Ocean View Tote Bag." 

"Ocean View Tote Bag" by Mary Pow

Find more finely crafted bags and pouches at Mary Pow Designs and in her Etsy shop, Minnebites, which also features cute pouches and pencil cases in the shapes of fish, sharks, ladybugs, and more.

That's the end of my tour. I do hope you manage to get over to the Textile Center to see the member show for yourself!