Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cooper Hewitt Felt Show

Between going to the Black Sheep Gathering wool show in Oregon last week and the felt exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in NYC this past Monday, I am feeling particularly inspired!
Although both I and the friend I attended the felt exhibit with had separately heard mixed reviews about it, we were both feeling happy and inspired when we left the museum. In particular, the "palace yurt" room was a highlight. And since there are no photos of it in the program book, I was particularly glad that the guards allowed me to photograph in that room. Despite my limited photographic skills, hopefully you can get a sense of the room and how lovely the felt was with the light pouring thru it.

To give some perspective, the ceiling height of this room was about 25' and the room measured about 20' x 40' oval. The ceiling and half the walls of the room were windows (I think it must have been the solarium of the old mansion that the museum is now in) and it was draped ceiling to floor in nuno felt!

The artist used primarily white on white, but with a touch of a bluish-grey and a fabulous coffee bean colored fabric here and there highlighting the otherwise natural ecru of the merino, brilliant white of the tencel and tan of the tussah silk.

Anyway, as a person whose default mode is color, color, color, the show has made me consider adding "white' to my palette! Plus, it has really made me rethink the types of fabric I look for as a base for felting....the central panel shown above was felted into a really coarse burlap-like fabric that produced a fabulous texture.

If you get a chance to go, I recommend it. I do understand where the "mixed" reviews come from...there are definitely some pieces in the show that you'll scratch your head and wonder how they got into a museum show! And of course, there were many great felters that were not represented at all, but there were some interesting home furnishings made with commercial felt and some lovely garments, along with the palace yurt that make it worthwhile.

Oh, and as an added plus, the Nature Conservancy has a show at the museum right now as well that is terrific...all about finding ways to use natural resources artistically. Very fun and even a few "fiber" related using Panama sheeps wool and another "jipijapa" (which is a fiber I'd never heard of before but learned that it's from the palm leaf and is most known for hats that bear it's name - have you ever heard of a jipijapa hat before?). Anyway, it's upstairs and well worth stopping into view while you're there!
Have fun!

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