Exhibition Review: “Stretching the Limits: Fibers in Contemporary Painting”

SCAD Museum of Art

Curator: Melissa Messina

The contemporary painting world is constantly experimenting with ways to discuss the history of painting through creative uses of media. In the exhibition “Stretching the Limits: Fibers in Contemporary Painting” at the SCAD Museum of Art, a narrative is created throughout the history of fibers from Sheila Hicks in the early 90’s up to works by several artists showcased, completed just in the past year in 2012. Because of this apparent timeline, viewers are not only asked to consider the relevance of fiber art to the contemporary art world, but also the history and appreciation of its origins in the fine art realm; an art form that spent decades in subcategories of lesser value. When asked about the exhibition, curator Melissa Messina expressed her interest in the show as an avenue through which to continue to “push the dialogue forward between painting and fibers.”

As a current student of SCAD in the painting department, it was inspiring to see such a creative and intensive use of physical line to create image, rather then creating an illusion of line or space, as painting is synonymous with. This use of thread as line and also optical color mixing techniques are elements that make Emil Lukas’ work particularly compelling. The beauty of color speaks even more personally to me in the single work on display by color field painter Sam Gilliam. As an admirer of Gilliam’s paintings, seeing his work in person with its historical rebellion of the canvas stretcher was in itself a priceless experience and inspiration.

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