Creating Art on a Twelve-Inch Square

General / People / Products / January 5, 2015

As challenges to textile artists go, this one was a doozy:

Artist members of the Textile Study Group of New York were asked to create a work of art on a 12-inch square panel of wood.

Their media could be fabric, thread, paper, wire, or any other that might stretch the definition of fiber art – and the imagination of viewers.

Eighty-two artists – the 200-member group includes curators and educators as well – responded with submissions that challenged the parameters of the assignment.,

“In some cases the panel is incorporated into the work itself, and in some cases it was used as a background, and in others a thread was wrapped around the panel,” says Marilyn Henrion, co-curator of an exhibit of their work. “It was used in every conceivable way.”

Many of the pieces express formal qualities inherent in weaving, knitting, stitching, knotting, and manipulation of fabric. Others incorporate drawing, printing, collage, and techniques not specific to textiles. Much of the work is abstract, relying on color, texture, and pattern to communicate, but figurative, architectural, and natural images also offer content ranging from personal narratives to commentary on timely issues.

“It shows the caliber of work from artist members – their styles and materials and how they interpret material,” she says. “It’s remarkable and unpredictable.”

The exhibition was non-juried, with just one direction given to the artists by the group’s board of directors and co-curators: Use the 12-inch-square panel.

“We decided that it had to be within the square and not extend beyond the 12 inch parameter,” she says.

“Square” opens on Jan. 16 in the Narthex Gallery in St. Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at E. 54th Street, and closes March 8.

A 92 page full color catalog of the exhibition  is available at


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Mike Welton

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