Textile art, also called fiber art, refers to fine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility.
The 1960s and 70s brought an international revolution in fiber art. Beyond weaving, fiber structures were created through knotting, twining, plaiting, coiling, pleating, lashing, interlacing, and even braiding. Artists in the United States and Europe explored the qualities of fabric to develop works that could be hung or free standing, "two or three dimensional, flat or volumetric, many stories high or miniature, nonobjective or figurative, and representational or fantasy." In the UK the founding of The 62 Group of Textile Artists coincided with a growth in interest in using textile media in a fine art context. The women's movement of the same era was important in contributing to the rise of fiber art because of the traditional association of women with textiles in the domestic sphere; indeed, many of the most prominent fiber artists are women.
Since the 1980s, fiber work has become more and more conceptual, influenced by postmodernist ideas. For fiber artists, in addition to long-standing experimentation with materials and techniques, this brought "a new focus on creating work which confronted cultural issues such as: gender feminism; domesticity and the repetitive tasks related to women's work; politics; the social and behavioral sciences; material specific concepts related to fiber's softness, permeability, drapability, and so on.”
Notable artists working with this medium include Tracey Emin, Kiki Smith, Sheila Hicks, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Judith Scott, Olga de Amaral, Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada and Billie Zangewa.
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