Inspired by Anni

A Scarf Inspired by Anni Albers
Marilynn Cowgill’s scarf inspired by Anni
Albers from the May/June 2014 Handwoven 

“…And a longing for excitement can be satisfied without external means, within oneself; for creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.” — Anni Albers (Selected Writings on Design, p.7)


When I moved to Western North Carolina in 2009, I knew it was an area rich with weavers, fiber artists, learning opportunities and tradition. As I have joined that community, I have learned how much this region contributed, and continues to contribute, to the rebirth and development of American hand weaving in the 20th and 21st centuries.


So when I saw the cover blurb on my latest Handwoven (May/June 2014) “A Scarf INSPIRED BY Anni Albers,” I flipped right to it and found not only Marilynn Cowgill’s lovely scarf project, but a timely article about Anni Albers and the Bauhaus tradition.


Anni has been on my mind a lot lately. I am currently collaborating with two weaving friends on an entry for a national juried show being sponsored by Local Cloth Inc. With a focus on this region’s long tradition of educating weavers and textile artists, the show asks entrants to take their inspiration from the work of Anni Albers, who, as Cowgill mentioned, established and taught the weaving program at the Black Mountain College from 1933 to 1957.


This college’s progressive founding philosophy was the integration of art and academics in an informal class structure that encouraged interdisciplinary experimentation inside and outside the classroom. Artists Josef and Anni Albers were the first professors, and their reputations attracted faculty and students that were, or have become, influential leaders in U.S. art and design. The town of Black Mountain, which was home to this revolutionary college, is just a few miles east of Asheville.


So my weaving buddies and I have been researching Anni’s woven work and drawings to find a common theme we can turn into a cohesive collection of home textiles. We’re in the “intensely exciting” design and sampling stage.


The reason I latched onto the above excerpt from the pull-quote in Handwoven is that 12 months ago, the same quote inspired our show’s title: EXCITE: An Exhibit of Contemporary Textiles & Fiber Art. In the interest of full disclosure, I am secretary of Local Cloth, and mounting this show has been a personal quest. It was triggered by a special exhibit featuring Anni Albers and some of her BMC students at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in downtown Asheville last fall.


Having just graduated from Haywood Community College Professional Crafts-Fiber program, connecting the educational missions of these two colleges—past, present and future—with an exhibit of contemporary handmade textiles seemed a perfect match.


The show will open Oct. 9, 2014, during American Craft Week, in the Mary Cornwell Gallery at HCC’s beautiful new Creative Arts Building, home of the Professional Crafts program, in nearby Clyde, NC. It continues there through Dec. 6. The juror is Rachel Meginnis, currently a resident artist working in textiles at another important center for weaving and textile art education, Penland School of Crafts, about an hour north of Asheville.


In a nod to Anni’s use of innovative materials, and in keeping with Local Cloth’s emphasis on sourcing locally to support the region’s entire fiber art supply chain, the exhibit requires entrants to include at least one material or resource obtained within a 100-mile radius of the artwork’s origination. We want to encourage artists nationwide to look around their own fibersheds to discover local materials, fiber processing services, or even other artists who may be able to raise their games.


Because as much as we connect with Anni Albers’ thoughts about working within oneself without external means, we have found that collaborating with a network of other fiber artists and suppliers is even more exciting.


As proud as we are of our region’s fiber art traditions and present-day artists, we know many other areas of the country are just as rich in history and talent. That’s why it’s a national call for entries. We believe we’re up for the challenge and hope you are too. Entry deadline is August 10, 2014.

Karen Donde

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