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Fiber-based art exhibition on view at Summit Artspace

7/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Kris Kapenekas’ 
“Addiction” is on view in Converging Visions: NEW Works in Fiber at Summit Artspace.
Photo courtesy of Summit Artspace
Shown from left is “Geisha,” by Paula Singleton, and “Reflection in Red,” by Donald Wasson, which are on view in The BOX Gallery at Summit Artspace.
Photo courtesy of Tom Reiderman
DOWNTOWN AKRON — If you are looking for something a bit off the usual in art exhibitions, take in Summit Artspace’s opening summer show, Converging Visions: NEW Works in Fiber, which will be on display through July 27.

According to exhibit officials, the eight artists — Jean Evans, Polly Gilmore, Fredericka Hagerty, Karen Hinkle, Kris Kapenekas, Mary Platis Kapenekas, Kathryn Markel Levy and Jean Markowitz — are textile artists with diverse backgrounds and training that create expressive pieces from beadwork to painting on cloth, joining impossible fabric shapes in sculptural forms and with manipulated papers and fabrics.

The group of eight also represent an “art collective” called Contemporary Fiber Artists (CFA) that began working together in 1994 to support and critique each others’ work and experience art together, according to exhibit officials. CFA members are united by their creative interest in contemporary fiber and the ways that it can be employed for, united with and reworked to yield new and interesting art, according to exhibit officials.

Perhaps the research aspect of their aim can be seen in the work displayed on the right-hand side wall as you enter the Summit Artspace first-floor gallery. Titled “Puzzle Pieces,” it is essentially fiber sculptures that resemble picture puzzle pieces done by seven of the eight women (Hagerty’s works in the exhibit are exclusively beaded works). Maybe all together, the combined puzzle would express their collective artistic concern.

The exhibit is well laid out. Each vantage point around the rooms provides an eye-catching and rich-looking production. Part of that comes from the sheer number of pieces represented in the display — around 112 different works, three or four of which are what they call “Round Robin” pieces to which most, if not all, contributed.

The women certainly upheld the premise of working with diverse materials and making them come together in artistic wholes. Gilmore’s “Incident in February” is a composite of computer-generated printed photos, threads, paint, inks, pencils, wire, ribbon and hand embroidery. You wouldn’t know that from the delicately created array of conjoined panels lush with shades of purple.

Kris Kapenekas’ “Target Practice, i.e. Don’t Mess with Jack” wins in the funkiest concept category. The black and brown array of varying targets are unique in that they each have a bullet hole somewhere close to dead center on each of nine targets. There is a placard explaining “Jack,” who from 30-some paces away put them all there.

Most of the works displayed are two-dimensional pieces on the walls. They are frequently highly colored and striking works, like Evans’ “Tomato Takeover,” a rich quilt that is hand painted, appliqued and machine quilted, or Hinkle’s “Origins,” a work in cotton, batik and wood fibers on canvas.

There are also some composite, thematic and genre specific works collected together that show the range of the artist. Levy’s “Necklaces” (there are nine of them) and Hagerty’s 13 “Bracelets” are all contained as a conglomerate work.

Perhaps going on the “collective” theme, there is a display by the Millinery Arts Coalition in The BOX Gallery on the third floor sponsored by the Artists of Rubber City. It is an exhibit of 30 hats designed by the artists. Also from the same group is a smaller display of works by Lawrence Walker called Crayon, Batik and Other Works.

Summit Artspace Gallery hours are Thursdays from noon to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit www.akronareaarts.org or call 330-376-8480.


Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and an avid art enthusiast. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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