Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sandra Dias, "A weft worth reading," Amherst Bulletin, 19 October


In "Fiber + Book," an exhibition on display at the Fiber Arts Center in Amherst, the concept and potential meanings of a book are explored in myriad forms, and shapes that range from boats to tea cozies and maps of the heart to nests.

Mixed-media and book artist Sharon McCartney of Belchertown, who curated the show, expanded upon an exhibition held last year in which New England book artists explored the use of fabric in the construction of books. When Museums10, a collaboration of Valley museums and businesses, announced that it would sponsor a celebration of the art of the book in the Valley this fall, Susan Loring-Wells, the center's director, asked McCartney to revisit the concept. This time she invited book artists working with fiber from around the country to participate. The current exhibition runs through Oct. 27 at the center, which is located at 79 South Pleasant St.

McCartney notes in her curator's statement that fiber becomes the forum for expanding the notion of what a book is; none of the artist books have been made using traditional bookbinding processes.

"Books have been sewn, woven, knitted, quilted and collaged using diverse materials such as handmade paper, fabric, thread, wood, plastic and found objects ... books are transformed by the imagination of these artists into personalized containers to house collected images, reveal private icons, share stories, and make statements about social, political and spiritual issues," McCartney writes.

The artists use the book form as "a bridge between their private and their public lives," McCartney says. "By closely focusing your attention on both the fabrication of a piece and the story it tells, you will come to appreciate how the artists have found ways to use their beautifully crafted books to confront personal questions and universal issues."

Coverage of this small, short-run exhibit in the local press is most welcome. No less welcome would be equally detailed coverage of the major programs and exhibitions that the Museums10 partner organizations are presenting throughout the fall season.

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