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Field Trip Review: Hooked & Twisted
October 28, 2014

On Saturday, the Common Cod Fiber Guild took a field trip to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston to see Fiber: Sculpture, 1960 to present, featuring 34 contemporary fiber artists. If you missed the field trip or want to go again, there is a special talk by two of the featured artists on Thursday, November 6th called The Artist’s Voice. Tickets are free with museum entry but are on a first-come, first served basis.

hooked and twisted brochure
hooked and twisted brochure

Both the exhibit and our tour guide, Connie, were amazing. Taking the elevator from the lobby to the exhibit hall, the first art installation catches your eye:


It had a very “sea” feel to it, and if you follow the center line of the photo you may notice a curve at the end. The fiber attached to the elevator and moved with us – what a treat! The piece is called “Put Me Down Gently” (2014) by US artist Sheila Pepe.

[Note that the ICA allows photography (but not with flash). Individual artists choose if they allow photography. A camera in a circle with a slash through it next to the artist’s name indicates no photography for that artist is allowed.]

The galleries were arranged to take us through a journey – first, a black and white gallery withand early sculpture, and we talked about the difference between a tapestry and a sculpture. The next gallery had color. My favorite piece is the focal point here – many square frames of mostly warp thread in different colors, with geometric shapes. I could not get enough of this piece, Èlèment spatial (1979) by Elsi Giauque!

Frames with geometrics shapes in warp threads
The view from the other side:
Frames with geometrics shapes in warp threads

There was a room all about the “grid”, which included this amazing piece made by Alexandre Da Cunha (born in Brazil, lives in London) using only mop heads and dye, called Kentucky Pied de Poule I (Kentucky Houdstooth I) (2012):
Grid made of mop heads

The next gallery was called “Fiber and Gravity”, and François Grossen’s Inchworm (1971) reminded me of how we got our name, Common Cod – the fishermen in Boston. It reminded me of fishing nets, and I loved the imagery that the the net itself is alive and crawling:


Another piece we spent some time in front of that evokes mountains was US artist Sherri Smith‘s Front Range (1976), made of mohair. Gravity clearly does its job in this piece. We talked about color, texture, material and whether we liked the symmetry or not:


The last gallery was “Fiber and Feminism”, which included the breathtaking Sistah Paradise’s Great Wall of Fire Revival Tent (1993-2009) by US artist Xenobia Bailey. From the free gallery guide, “Sistah Paradise is a fictional African medicine woman…who was brought to the United States as a slave. In order to free her community, she crochets an elaborate magic tent with cotton from the plantations on which they work. By entering the tent and drinking African tea, slaves are transported home, yet Sistah Paradise remains behind to help future generations rediscover their origins and establish a sense of collective identity. In this respect, Sistah Paradise is Bailey’s alter ego, extending a message of resistance, renewal, and racial pride through the process of crochet.”


Fiber, Velocity, Kinesis.

This exhibit is on view until January 4th, so plan your own outing now!


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  1. Looks fabulous! Glad you all got to go!

  2. I was so bummed to miss this field trip, but will definitely get there at least once in the next couple of months.

    Did you guys grab anything at the Cafe? I’ve wondered if it is worth hitting or if walking to Flour is a better choice?

  3. We missed you, Alanna! The Cafe was closed for a private event the day we were there, but Jim and I have eaten there several times — it’s good!