Fiber Arts

Ever wondered if you could make art from a pair of old socks or a tangle of yarn? From medieval tapestries to soft sculpture, fiber arts have weaved their way through art history, gaining a foothold in the visual arts in the mid-20th century. Fiber as an art media has limitless potential. In the case of Robert Irwin’s Chinati installation, untitled (dawn to dusk), fabric scrim is used as an element to capture, reflect, and distribute light. Follow along with these projects to unveil what you can do with fiber!

What is fiber art?

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In this week of Discover, Play, Make we are exploring fiber! What is fiber art and what are its materials? Scroll through the deck to learn more about this versatile material. An integral element of Robert Irwin's untitled (dawn to dusk) is the black and white scrim fabric that runs along the length of the installation's two side hallways and traverses the center pass. As the light changes both throughout the day and the year, the walls of scrim serve as a screen, capturing rectangles of light shining through the building's many windows. The rectangles’ intensity, proportion and scale are dependent upon the day's weather, light, and cloud coverage, producing an ever changing experience. Irwin discovered scrim, a synthetic fabric material, in Amsterdam in the 1970s. This simple material was generally used as curtain lining, but Irwin was attracted to its translucency and opacity and began incorporating it into his environmental installations. In developing this installation for Chinati, Irwin hoped to create a piece that emphasized the beauty that is already present in Marfa, explaining that "Marfa is magical." He further noted that his selection of materials, or lack thereof, worked to fulfill this intention, expressing "I want you to fly right through the window… so basically, that's the key to the whole thing of doing it, that is, that you're going to look out at this sky, and I'm going to articulate that sky hopefully in a subtle way, so as to draw you in to experience the sky in a number of different ways, but with as little means as possible because nothing I am doing is art. It's not art materials. It has very little to do with materiality.” #chinatiedu #chinatifoundation Robert Irwin, unpublished interview with Daphne Beal, December 23, 2014, the Chinati Foundation Archive, Marfa. As quoted in by Rob Weiner in Chinati: The vision of Donald Judd, Ed. 2, 2020.

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