News & Notes from Cameron

Ruth Asawa and the Crochet Problem - July 2014

On a recent visit to the de Young Museum, we viewed Lines on the Horizon, a stunning collection of Navajo weavings, and then headed to the observation tower for a view of San Francisco. The entry area at the base of the tower was filled with the ethereal work of Ruth Asawa. The interplay of light and shadow on these pieces was magical, and the unexpected way we experienced the works made them more so.

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I went to the museum's website to find out what they had to say about Asawa and encountered the curious rhetoric of the fine art world when it comes to any discussion of craft technique. They call Asawa a "modernist sculptor of abstract forms" and her pieces are referred to as "wire constructions" and "wire sculptures." Come on, spit it out, these pieces are crocheted. Her own website calls these works crocheted wire sculpture. What's wrong with that description? The issue is, ahem, crochet is a "craft" technique, and therefore not to be mentioned in a fine art context. Here is a quote from the de Young press release on her 2006-7 retrospective, in which they explain the problem and yet today continue to be a part of it with their reluctance to use the "c-word"  to decribe a technique that Asawa herself embraced. 

...today considered a San Francisco treasure, Asawa has been under-represented by most art history surveys of 20th-century sculpture. "Because her work uses nontraditional materials and a manual method that appears related to knitting, weaving and craft, it is often overlooked in discussions of modernist sculpture," says Dr. Cornell, Director of Contemporary Art Projects and Curator of American Art.

The Textile Trail/New York - June 2014

As an ardent hunter/gatherer of all things cloth, I searched out and stumbled upon some great finds in a recent trip to New York.

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I finally made it to the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn and was shown around by summer intern Callie Shea, a senior from the Savannah College of Art and Design. This place is buzzing with activity, and "aspires to unify and empower the textile community, and advocate for the handmade." Later in the day, I re-discovered Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum. I had completely forgotten how much beautiful needlework is integrated into each place setting.

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Another day my children and I ventured out to the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. What an impressive organization "working to improve the way America eats and farms." Plus they had a great printed hand towel, a collection of kahdi dishcloths and a big weaving in the woods!

Bonds and Connections - May 2014

Each member of Designing Weavers Guild shows a project that addresses the guild theme in an annual presentation. "Bonds and Connections" is this year's theme, and I illustrated my fiber bonds and connections with the whimsical sock puppets made at a recent createIt@ARTSgarage session!

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My work as a regional yarn representative is embodied in the socks themselves – discontinued samples from Regia that were donated to me from representatives throughout the United States and Canada. I designed several puppet prototypes, a joyful experience in making, and then presented what I learned to a wonderful group of educators who simply outdid themselves creating their own puppets.

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So there you have it – each puppet connects my fiber work  in making, teaching and sales, plus celebrates the strong bonds with the many people who have become my friends through fiber!

Color! Color! Color! - April 2014

April was a visual FEAST – a bit of rain brought out enough poppies and lupine to create the displays we Californians look forward to every spring. And the students in my April workshops used colorful yarns in delicious combinations, reminding me why teaching color and design to weavers and knitters is so rewarding.

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At the end of the month I stopped in at the TNNA trade show and picked up samples of new yarns and colors from many of the vendors I represent. Alchemy came out with several glorious new color combinations, and gave me entire hanks because (insert crocodile tears) there weren't any extra color cards!

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Folk Couture and Overdyed Carpets - March 2014

A recent textile adventure in Manhattan began with a visit to Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum, where several fashion designers were invited to create original couture pieces inspired by objects from the museum collection. Very intriguing. My personal favorites were works by Fabio Costa, inspired by a religious carving and a quilt; Jean Yu, inspired by a porcupine sculpture; and Gary Graham, inspired by a woven coverlet.

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The website is quite an adventure too, check it out at http://fashionandfolkart.tumblr.com/exhibition.


Another day we had lunch at ABC Kitchen and then trekked through the many floors of ABC Carpet and Home, a mecca for textile lovers, for sure! The vibrantly colored overdyed silk carpets were exceptional, and the showroom included a video of the dyeing process. Wow.

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