There’s a new collaborative at Cottonwood Center for the Arts that’s putting fiber art on the map. Textiles West will provide working and educational space, classes, workshops, retreats and other resources fully devoted to the fiber art medium. Equipment will include a large format textile digital printer and a 72-inch felt loom, coming later this year. According to Cottonwood, there are only two other organizations in North America that offer similar services, the TAC in New York City and Textile Center in Minneapolis.
So what is textile art all about? We were curious, so we spoke with Liz Kettle, a Monument resident and founding textile artist at the center about the fiber art movement and the Tactile event, which introduced Textiles West to the community.
Springs: Tell me a bit about fiber art.
Liz Kettle: Fiber art is anything made out of cloth or animal fibers. It encompasses a broad range of styles including fabric art, stitching and weaving.
Why is Textiles West important to fiber artists here in the Springs and the public in general?
We artists tend to work alone, at home in our private studios; if we hit a roadblock in our design and get stuck it can be hard to move forward. Textiles West gives us a space to work together, to develop a community where we can help one another. The space is open and available to anyone exploring fiber art. In addition, many educational classes will be held there.
How is fiber art connected to the maker culture?
The maker culture is a resurgence of interest in the traditional, handmade art forms among the younger, millennial generation. We are taking the older, marginalized art forms such as weaving, quilting and woodworking and making them more accessible to people.
Why do you think younger artists and people are attracted to the fiber arts?
I think the appeal in these tactile art forms is based on a reaction to our technology-flooded world. Technology separates us from reality; creating art that can be touched and felt brings us back to it. I think young people are searching for a balance between the virtual world and the physical one.
How does technology intersect with the fiber arts?
We use technology to assist us in creating our art. We don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. For example, I might use a sewing machine to help me do stitching more quickly. Textiles West has a fantastic new digital printer that allows us to do things like copy an artist’s design directly onto a standard-width piece of fabric. We are very excited about it.
What activities will be held at the Tactile event? (Editor’s note: Tactile took place Oct. 22, 2016.)
Tactile will allow the attendees to not only view fiber art but to try it out as well. There will be hands-on activities for all ages, as well as talks and demonstrations by artists. Our goal in presenting Tactile is to introduce the public to what we do and gain exposure for the fiber art movement here in Colorado Springs.
More info at cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com.