St. Louis Regional Arts Commission

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Textile Variations/ New Directions

September 16 - November 6, 2011

Opening Reception: Friday, September 16 l 5:30 to 7:30 PM

Gallery Talk: Thursday, Sept. 22 | 5:30pm Reception, 6:00pm Talk

Rocky Mountain Elk by C. Alana Tibbets

Textile Variations/ New Directions postcard

Curator: Barbara Simon

Artists: Joyce Briscoe, Erin Dimick, Sun Smith-Foret, Marjorie Hoeltzel, Dawn Ottensmeier, Nicole Ottwell, Jo Stealey, Laura Strand, C. Alana Tibbets, Rena Wood

You don't meet many people whose CVs include "textile artist" and "biology Ph.D.", but C. Alana Tibbets, an artist in the exhibition "Textile Variations/ New Directions" at The Gallery at the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), has no difficulty combining her two passions.

"I approach a new textile project in the same way I would a question in the lab," she says, "with a foundation of knowledge and techniques and an open mind." Tibbets' textiles themselves are unique as well. Her three-dimensional cloth figures have human bodies and the heads of animals or birds, and may reference spirits or animal legends.

Curator Barbara Simon acknowledges that the exhibition "diverges from the conventional and becomes a synthesis of various creative techniques and explorations which results in an expression of personal imagery." One could argue that all art is an expression of personal imagery but there's a fascinating blend of tactile, exotic, yet domestic and familiar elements in textiles.

All of the artists have a unique perspective on textiles. Textiles embody material culture and the personal histories of their owners, important factors in Dawn Ottensmeier's work. Erin Dimick's interests lie in the relationship between cloth and women's lives. As seen in Jo Stealey's sculptural vessels assembled from handmade paper and leaves, textiles are a fusion of traditional and innovative techniques. Rena Wood looks to Asian landscape painting and Color Field paintings of the 1940s and 1950s to create her work. World cinema and the history of American art have greatly influenced Sun Smith-Foret's pieces. Marjorie Hoeltzel draws inspiration from nature, literature, and her own dreams. The main themes of Nicole Ottwell's work focus on handmade vs. machine-made and traditional vs. modern construction. Laura Strand has channeled her sadness at losing her sister-in-law into her current body of work.

"Textile Variations/ New Directions" opens at RAC on Friday, September 16 from 5:30 - 7:30pm and is free and open to the public. It continues through November 6 and is part of the St. Louis biennial collaboration event "Innovations in Textiles 9". The concept was introduced in 1995 with three participating galleries and now involves 19 venues that exhibit contemporary fiber/textile art. Programs such as these continue to increase exposure and appreciation for textiles as an art form.

"Innovations in Textiles 9" will hold two bus tours which visit all of the participating venues. For more information and to buy tickets for one or both tours, please visit


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