WITH the aim to thrust textile and fibre art in Jamaica's mainstream art environment, the lead curator of the Fiberactive Germination Art Exhibition, Katrina Coombs, was hoping that with this exhibition the younger artists would consider textile and fibre as a viable tool for creating pieces.
Additionally, Coombs told Career & Education that although the exhibition consisted of purely female textile and fibre artists, this was not done intentionally, instead the art form seemingly has more female practitioners as opposed to males.
“Fiberactive germination developed out of the need that we saw for artists to show their work. But specifically within the field of textile and fibre arts, we've noticed that a lot of the artists are considered a little bit dormant,” she began. “And one of the reasons for that is because they kind of got lost in the art history of Jamaican art, even though we have had so many great artists that have passed through,” Coombs continued.
At the same time, she said after pulling together the exhibition, which ran up to the end of November, she was able to identify a number of artists from different areas within the art scene, which allowed a more diverse art collection.
“We have fully established artists who are practising, artists who are just beginning their stage within the art field, but also mid-career artists and some who have actually been dormant and not necessarily practising so much, mainly because they are not aware of where [and] how they can show their work off,” she explained.
However, Coombs said, “You'll find in a lot of the works [that were exhibited], the artists are looking at identity. And as they are women, so it's not even to say the intention is to be feminist, but as a woman you can only represent yourself… all the artists are women.”
Textile and fibre art uses the medium of fibre, threads, yarns and fabrics to create various art, according to Coombs.
Highlighting a beautiful piece which was positioned at the entrance of the exhibition, which was designed to immediately attract viewers with its striking shades of reds, Coombs said, “This piece was done by a young artist, Kadeen Williams. It's [called] Femininity [and] she has a series of works where she was looking on women's identity and the object of what is concerned with women's identity, but also how she relates to her body and as women what we identify with ourselves, which is our womb, our [menstrual] cycle and how that affects us physically and emotionally.”
Additionally, Coombs spoke about her own pieces, which she explained are segments of a larger art piece called Apocalypse: Lifting of the Vile.
“My work is looking at the loss of a child [and] how that affects women and how that affects people on a whole in our relationships to each other. It's a project that I started to engage the community of women who have gone through loss, loss in the sense of whether it's a child, through miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth, and how that incident impacts her, but also the people around her,” Coombs added, as she noted that she has experienced the loss of a child in recent years, which sparked these art pieces.
The three pieces, made with finger embroidery, utilised colours such as red, yellow and white, and according to Coombs these colours carry a certain energy that resonates with her.
“The colours are very significant for me in the sense that you'll find my work to have a lot of tones of reds, yellows and whites, and for me they hold energy [and] strength. When I think of white it ruptures space and it's meant to be a colour that is seen as purity but also it's a very violent colour. And just all of these tones work with each other to create that energy and that richness of what creates one's identity, because I think as women we walk around with our energy, our aura and we can fill a space, we own space,” she explained.
Other artists featured in the exhibition included veteran textile and fibre artist Margaret Stanley and 22-year-old Danaree Greaves.
According to Greaves, her two pieces, titled I Give Myself Permission To Be Free and Can You See Me, used cotton threads and cotton fabric to express her decision to embrace her “true self” despite what others around her would want her to be, as well as highlighting people's tendency to hide their true feelings from everyone around them.
At the same time, Stanley said her three pieces, titled 2020/ 2021, The World is on Fire and Floating, depicted the mood she was in after her husband passed away, and the terrifying threat of multiple wildfires across the globe.