Friday, May 1, 2009
CYBER FYBER was an exhibition of international fiber art scheduled held from January 8th through 20th, 2009 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady Street in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, USA. The brainchild of Susan Lenz, this exhibit focused on the supportive, global community of fiber artists with whom Susan regularly shared new techniques, contemporary approaches to textiles, and finished work via Internet websites and blogs. The exhibition had three primary areas: Fiber ATCs (Artist Trading Cards); fiber postcards; and the work of several invited artists. The exhibition also included FIBER DAY and ATC trading day. From the beginning, Susan Lenz is documenting CYBER FYBER on a blog/journal.
INVITATIONAL ARTWORK: The main gallery displayed the original fiber works of Emmy Schoonbeek and Jacqueline de Jong of The Netherlands; Maggie Grey and Lynda Monk of Great Britain; Beate Knappe and Wanda Lenz of Germany; Annica Lindsten of Sweden; Arlee Barr of Canada; Dijanne Cevaal, Dale Rollerson, Sharon Boggon, Doreen and Ebony Grey of Australia; Penny Sisto of Indiana; Nikki Wheeler of Washington; Veleta Staffney and Corinne Stubson of Oregon; Jill Rumoshosky Werner of Kansas; and Fulvia Boriani Luciano, Susan Sorrell and Susan Lenz of South Carolina.
FIBER DAY: On Saturday, January 10, 2009 Gallery 80808 hosted Fiber Day. Susan Lenz partnered with Creative Sewing (519 12th Street, West Columbia, SC) for this event. It was a day in which visitors experienced the joys of sewing machines, embellishers, hands-on demonstrations and discussions as well as "Show-n-Tell" by experts and amateurs alike. Susan Lenz conducted two demonstrations: The Stitch Family (a hilarious presentation, perfect for children) and HOT (heat activated processes for the contemporary embroiderer.)
ATC TRADING DAY: On Saturday, January 17, 2009 Gallery 80808 hosted ATC Trading Day. This was an opportunity for EVERYONE to trade ALL KINDS of ATCs. There will be no age or media restriction. The artists at Vista Studio invited everyone to participate in an INTERNATIONAL RANDOM ATC TRADE.
(The photos were taken at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios, 808 Lady Street in Columbia, South Carolina. The postcards and ATCs pictured are the ones being offered by Susan Lenz for trade. For the exhibition in January 2009, there were labels...of course!)
This project was funded by the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
During the past two months I have been investigating the needs to mount CYBER FYBER 2. I've learned so much, collected valuable information, and made many new contacts. I've also had to face facts. It pains me to announce that CYBER FYBER 2 has been postponed indefinitely....maybe until 2011...maybe longer. Current economic realities are harsh. A bright future might be on the horizon but there's no way to determine when it will blossom. South Carolina ranks second in US unemployment statistics and daily the numbers increase. I know teachers whose contracts will not be renewed after decades of loyal service. I know too many people in the arts and elsewhere being forced to take numerous, unpaid vacation days in order to avoid layoffs. I've had former Mouse House employees call asking if I have any openings. (I don't.) One of the people on my "Selected Reference List" is now looking for a job....needing references of her own. Our newspaper has cut staff because company advertising is so low. This cutback eliminated the entire arts section...writers and editors. The owner/editor of the region's monthly art magazine just took out a second mortgage on his house. The gallery in which my 2007 show with Janet Kozachek was held has closed its doors. I know of at least one other art gallery doing the same.
How can I, in good faith, approach businesses for financial support? I can't! How can I apply for grants from arts agencies that are experiencing as much as 25% reductions from their sources? I can't! How can I proceed knowing that Steve and I can't personally cover the expenses or expect help? It's impossible.
I don't, however, have to remove the show's listing from the Gallery 80808/Vista Studio's website. These two weeks in the incredible gallery space are mine! I WILL USE THEM to mount my own solo exhibition. The "working title" is "Life Everlasting". This installation will focus on personal and universal identities through art inspired by grave markers and epitaths.
There will be more developments, of course. For one thing, I've recently submitted exhibition proposals for "Personal Grounds" (including the entire Decision Portrait Series) and Blues Chapel. Also, I've applied for several artists residency programs and also for a summer scholarship to Penland. Depending on the outcome of one of these programs, I will hopefully be traveling to Austria with Pian and Annica (my Swedish stitching buddies) to take a workshop with Sara Lechner! I've started submitting my work for gallery representation too. In a nutshell, I'm redirecting my focus...away from CYBER FYBER 2 but toward an exciting, artistic year in art.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CYBER FYBER was a tremendous success. I've decided to mount CYBER FYBER 2! The exhibition is scheduled from January 7 - 19, 2010 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.
IT WILL NOT BE THE SAME!
There is no possible way that I could force myself to do the same thing. CYBER FYBER 2 must be an evolution of the ideas, connections, and concepts from this year. It will still focus on the supportive, global community of fiber artist using the Internet for inspiration and conectivity. I would like the main gallery to feature an international juried exhibit. To this end, I'm already seeking sponsors for significant awards and will be learning about securing quality jurors. I would like to include fiber postcards too....but not traded ones. I would also like to create an installation.
Below are some of my thoughts. I've written this as an email to a close cyber friend and am now sharing these ideas. I want feedback.....ideas, suggestions, new concepts, and comments....basically BRAINSTORMING!
From my recent email:
The main gallery during CYBER FYBER was devoted to the work of the invitational artists. As you know, I selected artists who represented a unique benefit to the Internet world of fiber arts. This was great. The signage included all the reasons for each person's inclusion. I think everyone who walked through the gallery "got it". Next year, however, I'd like the main gallery to evolve into a juried exhibit....the "best of the best" sort of thing. Having submitted for such exhibits, I'm familiar with how this should operate. I'm also aware that in order to attract truly high quality artists, I need substantial prizes and really qualified jurors. This will take MONEY. I'm thinking $1500 for first place; $1000 for second; and $500 for third. There will have to be a few $100 honorable mentions. I'm not sure how much jurors cost but I'm hoping $500 each....for 2 jurors.
Unlike the Pfaff Embroidery challenge that always has a theme, this would not have a theme. The only requirements would be: mostly fiber and each artist would have to have an Internet presence....a blog, website, Flickr!, Stitchin Fingers, active profile, etc....somewhere the public can leave a comment for each artists. Afterall, CYBER FYBER and CYBER FYBER 2 are about the Internet connected community. Each person has to be a "member" of this on-line, supportive, global network. I know that juried shows like this are a bit elitist. I know this means that some people will pay an entry fee and recieve a rejection. I know this because I've opened plenty of rejections myself!
I also know that the fiber postcards were undoubtedly the most popular part of CYBER FYBER for those in the supportive, online community. I know that CYBER FYBER 2 will have to have postcards. But, I'm not about to make hundreds of postcards again this year. For me, that part has to be over! Right now I've got this enormous collection. I hope to donate it for some good purpose but in the meantime I don't need to be adding to this collection! Personally, it was fun making the first round of postcards...but I don't find it fun anymore.
What do you think of this idea: Fiber artists who want to be involved in CYBER FYBER 2 simply send a postcard. They temporarily become my personal property. Each postcard must be from someone in the cyber community. Each one will be hung in the gallery. There will be another on-line PEOPLE'S CHOICE award. There will be another BEST OF SHOW jurying. However, I want to partner with a museum....a GOOD museum....high profile place that already has a connection with fibers. This museum would end up with the postcards.....accepting at least 20 into the permanent collection. The remainder could be sold in their gift shop, used in some sort of charity event, etc.
Do you think that stitchers would participate? I just don't know if people were more interested in trading with me personally, being part of an exhibit, or what. Do you think people would send great postcards just to be in a gallery exhibition, an on-line exhibition, and with the possibility of getting their postcard into a museum.....or do you think they really want something in exchange?
I think the ATCs will evolve into a second International Random trade....but not be part of the exhibition or the on-line exhibition.
I also think that I'd like Maggie Grey's concept to evolve into an installation. Maggie Grey asked the world for comments on her blog and then used the text to create the works she made for CYBER FYBER. I'd like to suggest that fiber artists send me scraps and threads as a gesture of our common stitches and sense of community. I would document whatever I receive and promise to use all the materials in the creation of an installation. The scraps and threads would have to be all fiber but could include any writing, message, stitch about the Internet connected community and/or indications of that part of the physical world from which the material came. The installation's working title could be "Stitched Earth" or "Global Threads" or "The World Wide Web in Thread" or some such thing that addresses both the Internet community and fiber all at once....an evolution of the original concepts....and something totally new and wonderful for me to do!
Well....there it is....my brainstorming. Let me know what you think.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
(Click on image above to enlarge. Mimi Renne Sainte-Laudy's winning postcard being presented by her sister Georgette Zissel and her daughter-in-law Debi Combis of Charlotte, North Carolina! It was so very exciting to have them present for the announcement!)
Today the on-line votes and the physical, paper votes from Gallery 80808/Vista Studios were added together. The winners were determined! The announcement was made! Here it is:
PEOPLE'S CHOICE POSTCARD
Mimi Renne Sainte-Laudy
PEOPLE'S CHOICE ATC
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Exhibit Shows Internet’s Impact on Art World
A review of Cyber Fyber, on view at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios through Jan. 20.
MARY BENTZ GILKERSON
Alree Barr, Cache (detail)
Cyber Fyber is not your average gallery exhibition. It is the culmination of a monumental, yearlong project developed by Columbia-area fiber artist Susan Lenz. The project was inspired by the sense of community she developed with other fiber artists around the world through her blogging experiences.
The Internet is a vast web of resources that is very attractive for visual artists in particular. Most artists use it to market their work through web sites and online galleries. But many others are taking advantage of the social and professional networking opportunities not only to market their work, but also to create ties with other artists throughout the world. Some limit themselves to the main social networks like MySpace and Facebook; others use using free blogging sites to create their own networks.
Lenz has done all of the above: She has 12 blogs associated with the Cyber Fyber exhibit alone.
The quality of the artwork is high, but the most important thing about the exhibit is the process Lenz used to put it together. It is a manifestation of the paradigm shift in the art world resulting from artists making full use of the Internet to control their own careers.
Art entrepreneurs like Lenz are going beyond simply organizing their own local exhibitions to building national and international networks that they can use for both marketing and professional support. Lenz was able to curate a truly international fiber arts exhibition purely from the contacts that she made via her blog, an unthinkable feat 10 years ago. The show includes work by artists from more than 26 countries including Australia, England, Germany and Canada, as well as the United States.
Cyber Fyber has two components: 400-plus fiber cards that Lenz traded with other artists, and larger works by 17 artists in an invitational section.
Some of the small cards are little gems, but the main impact of this section comes from the sheer visual weight of so many pieces. The grid pattern that was used to hang the pieces makes this section read as one large quilt.
The invitational section has some more traditional work, but most of the work could stand on its own in any contemporary art setting. Cyber Fyber is a four-panel book piece by Jacqueline de Jong of the Netherlands. Accordion folds allow the work to stand on its own on the pedestal where the viewer can see both the front and the back of the panels. She uses a range of dark earth tones in her richly textured abstracts.
Fulvia Boriani Luciano, from South Carolina, also works with abstract forms and shapes. She creates quilted hanging pieces in various grid formats, exploring subtle color relationships.
Penny Sisto of Indiana also makes quilted wall pieces, but she uses representational imagery to create narratives that deal very openly with social commentary. Strange Fruit VI is dominated by a large female figure, her mouth open in a scream or cry. To her right, six male figures swing in the branches of a tree.
The range of work in both sections gives an overview of the broad range of styles and content being addressed by contemporary fiber artists. The invitational has allowed Lenz to go deep with the work of the 17 selected artists.
The exhibit showcases the potential of the Internet to change the reigning dealer/artist art-world paradigm. The role of the middleman, i.e. the dealer, hasn’t been eliminated — yet — but that role is definitely shifting.
Cyber Fyber will be on view through Jan. 20. A variety of related activities are taking place in conjunction with the exhibit. Visit the main Cyber Fyber blog at
cyberfyberexhibition.blogspot.com for more information.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Above is a link to the University of South Carolina's Daily Gamecock newspaper where the talented Ellen Meder, Assistant Mix Editor, wrote an article on CYBER FYBER complete with an on-line slide presentation. In order to preserve this information and the images, I've posted it on the CYBER FYBER journal here.
Monday, January 12, 2009
CYBER FYBER at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios
808 Lady Street
Columbia, SC 29201
OPEN DAILY, Sunday - Saturday, 11 AM to 5 PM
THROUGH Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Saturday, January 17 is ATC (Artist Trading Card) Day from 1 - 4. The International Random ATC Swap will be held starting at 2:30 PM. On-line comments/votes for PEOPLE'S CHOICE Awards will be counted and winners will be determined! To vote, leave a comment on your favorite ATC and postcard in the CYBER FYBER on-line exhibitions. Postcards are here. ATCs are here.
Friday, January 9, 2009
BEST OF SHOW POSTCARD
Postcard # 101
Honorable Mention Postcards
Postcard # 83
Fulvia Boriani Luciano
South Carolina, USA
Postcard # 48
Postcard # 127
Patty Van Huis-Cox
Postcard # 240
North Carolina, USA
Postcard # 274
BEST OF SHOW ATC
ATC # 141
Honorable Mention ATCs
ATC # 110
ATC # 66
ATC # 152
ATC # 92
ATC # 20