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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 15, 2004

Exhibit expands perception of fiber, textile works

By Victoria Gail-White
Special to The Advertiser

 •  'Textiles & Fiber 2004'

Contemporary Work in Hawaii: A Group Exhibit

Open during business hours, Mondays-Saturdays

Through Feb. 21

1132 Bishop St., upper lobby-level gallery

This show by 20 of the best fiber and textile artists in the Islands features some of their finest work over time. It features works both serious and humorous. A handful of newcomers are featured, too.

Many pieces have been shown before, some fairly recently, but not all together. The artists exemplify the chronology and growth of fiber and textile work in Hawai'i and stretch our perceptions about what to expect from a show of this genre.

As art forms, fiber and textiles are still in the exciting process of evolving from two-dimensional woven and stitched works to more contemporary three-dimensional formats.

This exhibit is a good mix of traditional and innovative works.

Here, the word "fiber" doesn't mean just thread, yarn or paper — it also means fish skins, pig gut and disposable diapers.

Jean Williams, "the grandmother of textile," and Lucille Cooper, "the grandmother of fiber," reign supreme in this show, exhibiting many works from earlier times.

Williams, a retired University of Hawai'i-Manoa professor of textiles and a founding member of the 50-year-old Hawaii Handweavers Hui, displays her skills as both a traditional weaver and a fiber sculptor.

"Scarf, circa 1965" is an elegant, cream-colored and patterned piece woven with synthetic fibers. Two large sculptural "Untitled" works are shaped and formed pieces that incorporate the weaving, wrapping and knitting of electric colored yarns and threads.

Cooper, a prominent figure and major contributor to the local art community, includes fiber in many of her clay pieces. "Hawaiian War Shield" and "Pali View" are good examples.

Her work is strong and earthy, inspired by the Hawaiian culture (including a series of "Imaginary Hawaiian Masks") and the potent energy and land formations of volcanoes.

Catherine, Cooper's daughter, also has a selection of wrapped, multicolored yarn necklaces with assorted embellishments in the show titled "Retro Jewels."

Liz Train, who has been responsible for initiating the juried Hawaii Craftsmen's Fiber Hawaii exhibits since 1982, continues to show her own joyfully innocent and refreshingly unsophisticated work.

Her weaving "Garden" is like a page from a children's book, with ducks, goldfish and pink water lilies in a blue pond alongside a large tree with an orange-striped cat sprawled out in its branches.

Train's black and copper metallic fabric appliqué, titled "100,000 Tons of Stardust Fall to Earth Each Day," represents a more sophisticated side.

Alison Roscoe, an accomplished paper maker, exhibits five pieces in the show. "Overflow" is a folio of handmade paper and thin paper strips that suggest it may be time for a new order, a new page.

Lori Uyehara, who is also exhibiting her wood sculptures at the Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center (reviewed Feb. 8), is showing three mixed-media works done in 2000.

Shrine-like, these pieces turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

"A Cool Night Mist" features woven paper strips, wrapped sticks and other fibers.

Her more recent works are small treasures. "Curiosity Tickles" and "Tie Ups" are mixed-media fiber vessels with hair and feathers.

Marques Marzan's natural plaited-fiber "Free Flow" and Linda Gue's woven colored wire vessels are in clear contrast to each other in the same case.

Sara Oka's mixed-media "On Fire" and the three "Untitled" bowls by Darius Homay made of sterling silver, cast kozo and indigo have a timeless elegance.

Sara Nunes Atabaki stretches the fiber of fish skins in "River Nile" and gut in "Caldera Illumina" over rib-like panicles.

Pig gut is also the fiber used in "Combing Her Memories" by Jee Un Kim.

Here, 10 pairs of translucent traditional Korean-style pig gut shoes are mounted in a row at eye level. Each shoe has long red cotton threads hanging from the soles to the floor.

J.R. Ludlow and Jee Un Kim, teachers at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa, have included the work of their students Kristy Asato, Jill Akutagawa, Evie Lum and Sayo Grani-Lee.

Grani-Lee's humorous pink rubber band and wired pink flower apron is in a size that fits all.

If you are interested in a changing-of-the-spuds ceremony, Nicole Morita comes every Monday to change the potatoes and reposition the red beads in her piece "Ruby Red Yukons."

Maile Andrade's majestic "Ku in Its Many Forms" is eight panels of painted and printed cotton that hang from the ceiling to the floor.

The surprise in this show is the elegantly hilarious "Baby Formal" by Heather Briskin. This entire floor-length strapless gown is fashioned out of disposable diapers and diaper pins.

There are photographs of Briskin modeling the dress (with her very own triplets) nearby. This piece, as well as evoking an initial knee-jerk laugh response, also has a serious side.

The mental associations boomerang from images of the prom, debutantes and weddings to dependency and incontinence.