Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women

Media - 2019.15 - SAAM-2019.15_1 - 137377

Emma Amos, Winning1982, acrylic on linen with hand-woven fabric, 75 × 64 in. (190.5 × 162.6 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Catherine Walden Myer Fund, 2019.15, © 1982, Ryan Lee Gallery, New York

Cotton, wool, polyester, silk — fiber is felt in nearly every aspect of our lives. The artists in Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women mastered and subverted the everyday material throughout the twentieth century.

The thirty-three selected artworks piece together an alternative history of American art. Accessible and familiar, fiber handicrafts have long provided a source of inspiration for women. Their ingenuity with cloth, threads, and yarn was dismissed by many art critics as menial labor. The artists in this exhibition took up fiber to complicate this historic marginalization and also revolutionize its import to contemporary art. They drew on personal experiences, particularly their vantage points as women, and intergenerational skills to transform humble threads into resonant and intricate artworks.

Description

Several themes place artworks in conversation with an emphasis on the artist’s own words: the complex (often contradictory) influence of domestic life; feminist strategies for upending the art world status quo; shared knowledge of traditional and experimental techniques; and pushing boundaries of the perception and possibilities of fiber art. A dedicated gallery space of archival materials provides a window into the artist’s studio, deepening insight into their creative processes with sketches, mail art, and photographs. Together, these categories illuminate how artists have invited moments of contemplation about the interplay between material and message.

The artworks are as diverse as the women who made them. Among the artists included in this exhibition are Adela Akers, Neda Al-Hilali, Emma Amos, Lia Cook, Olga de Amaral, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Sheila Hicks, Agueda Martínez, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Joyce Scott, Judith Scott, Kay Sekimachi, Lenore Tawney, Katherine Westphal, Claire Zeisler, and Marguerite Zorach. The artists expressed themselves in the form of sewn quilts, woven tapestries and rugs, beaded and embroidered ornamentation, twisted and bound sculptures, and multi-media assemblages. Each artwork carries the story of its maker, manifesting—stitch by stitch—the profound and personal politics of the hand.

All of the artworks are drawn from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection; archival materials and interviews are selected from collections of the Archives of American Art. To further amplify the voices of the artists, SAAM will produce a narrative podcast. The audio program will highlight some of the most compelling backstories that are woven into the exhibition. The project is organized by Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator; Mary Savig, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft; and Laura Augustin Fox, curatorial collections coordinator.

Visiting Information

May 31, 2024 January 5, 2025
Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m
Free Admission

Audio

Credit

Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art. Generous support has been provided by The Coby Foundation, Ltd., The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation, the James Renwick Alliance for Craft, and the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation. This exhibition received federal support from the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women's History Museum.

American Women's History Museum Logo
A black brush script logo reads "Colby"
Logo for the James Renwick Alliance for Craft

Online Gallery

Miriam Schapiro, Wonderland, 1983, acrylic, fabric and plastic beads on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of an anonymous donor, 1996.88
Wonderland
Date1983
acrylic, fabric and plastic beads on canvas
On view
Marguerite Zorach, My Home in Fresno around the Year 1900, 1949, wool embroidered on linen, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift from the Collection of Tessim Zorach, 1970.65.12
My Home in Fresno around the Year 1900
Date1949
wool embroidered on linen
On view
Alice Eugenia Ligon, Embroidered Garment, ca. 1949, embroidered muslin, cotton crochet; pencil; cotton rick-rack trim, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., 1989.78.2
Embroidered Garment
Dateca. 1949
embroidered muslin, cotton crochet; pencil; cotton rick-rack trim
On view
Joyce Scott, Necklace, 1994, beads, fabric, and thread, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Dale and Doug Anderson, 1996.31, © 1994, Joyce J. Scott
Necklace
Date1994
beads, fabric, and thread
On view
Clementine Hunter, Melrose Quilt, ca. 1960, fabric, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Barbara Coffey Quilt Endowment, 2014.5
Melrose Quilt
Dateca. 1960
fabric
On view
Louise Nez, Reservation Scene, 1992, commercial yarn, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1997.124.189
Reservation Scene
Date1992
commercial yarn
On view
Marguerite Zorach, Untitled (Embroidered Bedspread), ca. 1918, linen fiber: tabby weave with plied wool yarn and chain stitch embroidery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Helen Miller Obstler, 1985.52
Untitled (Embroidered Bedspread)
Dateca. 1918
linen fiber: tabby weave with plied wool yarn and chain stitch embroidery
On view
Faith Ringgold, The Bitter Nest, Part II: The Harlem Renaissance Party, 1988, acrylic on canvas with printed, dyed and pieced fabric, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1997.18, © 1988, Faith Ringgold
The Bitter Nest, Part II: The Harlem Renaissance Party
Date1988
acrylic on canvas with printed, dyed and pieced fabric
On view
L'Merchie Frazier, From a Birmingham Jail: MLK, 1996, silk, photo transfer, gel medium, dyes, and beads, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of L'Merchie Frazier in memory of Watty and Alberta Frazier and James and Merchie Dooley (grandparents), 2002.41
From a Birmingham Jail: MLK
Date1996
silk, photo transfer, gel medium, dyes, and beads
On view
Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Virgen de los Caminos, 1994, embroidered and quilted cotton and silk with graphite, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1996.77
Virgen de los Caminos
Date1994
embroidered and quilted cotton and silk with graphite
On view
Claire Zeisler, Coil Series III--A Celebration, 1978, natural hemp and wool, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1984.163
Coil Series III – A Celebration
Date1978
natural hemp and wool
On view
Susan L. Iverson, Ancient Burial IV--Night, 1989, wool on linen warp, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Ellen Jane and Rogers Hollingsworth, 2003.23A-C
Ancient Burial IV – Night
Date1989
wool on linen warp
On view
Ed Johnetta Miller, Rites of Passage II, 1998, machine-pieced, machine-quilted, and embroidered cotton, indigo, batik, silk, and shells, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2002.40
Rites of Passage II
Date1998
machine-pieced, machine-quilted, and embroidered cotton, indigo, batik, silk, and shells
On view
Carolyn Mazloomi, The Family Embraces, 1997, machine reverse appliqued, hand-stitched, and quilted cotton, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2002.20
The Family Embraces
Date1997
machine reverse appliqued, hand-stitched, and quilted cotton
On view
Matilda Damon, Protected in Bliss, 1991, handspun wool with native and vegetable dyes, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Chuck and Jan Rosenak and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1997.124.186
Protected in Bliss
Date1991
handspun wool with native and vegetable dyes
On view
Agueda Martínez, Tapestry Weave Rag Jerga, 1994, woven cotton cloth on cotton yarn warp, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1995.46
Tapestry Weave Rag Jerga
Date1994
woven cotton cloth on cotton yarn warp
On view
Lia Cook, Crazy Too Quilt, 1989, dyed rayon; acrylic on woven and pressed abaca paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and Bernard and Sherley Koteen and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1991.199, © 1989, Lia Cook
Crazy Too Quilt
Date1989
dyed rayon; acrylic on woven and pressed abaca paper
On view
Else Regensteiner, Red and Blue, 1969, wool and other fibers, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Helga Regensteiner Sinaiko, 2006.29.2, ©, Helga Sinaiko
Red and Blue
Date1969
wool and other fibers
On view
Judith Scott, Untitled, 1994, mixed media and string, Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Margaret Z. Robson Collection, Gift of John E. and Douglas O. Robson, 2016.38.67, © 2005, Creative Growth
Untitled
Date1994
mixed media and string
On view
Sheila Hicks, The Principal Wife Goes On, 1969, linen, silk, wool and synthetic fibers, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 1977.118.2A-F
The Principal Wife Goes On
Date1969
linen, silk, wool and synthetic fibers
On view
Olga De Amaral, Cal y Canto, ca. 1979, linen and gesso, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Isidore M. Samuels, 1991.109
Cal y Canto
Dateca. 1979
linen and gesso
On view
Cynthia Schira, Reflections, 1982, woven and bound resist-dyed cotton and dyed rayon, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible in part by the James Renwick Alliance and Roberta Golding, 1985.29A-D
Reflections
Date1982
woven and bound resist-dyed cotton and dyed rayon
On view
Mariska Karasz, Breeze, ca. 1958, embroidered linen, plastic and mixed fibers, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Solveig Cox and Rosamond Berg Bassett in memory of their mother, Mariska Karasz, 1991.132.1
Breeze
Dateca. 1958
embroidered linen, plastic and mixed fibers
On view
Lenore Tawney, In the Dark Forest, ca. 1959, woven linen, wool, and silk, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1992.90, © 1959, Lenore G. Tawney
In the Dark Forest
Dateca. 1959
woven linen, wool, and silk
On view
Lenore Tawney, Box of Falling Stars, 1984, cotton canvas, linen thread, acrylic paint, and ink, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1992.83, © 1984, Lenore G. Tawney
Box of Falling Stars
Date1984
cotton canvas, linen thread, acrylic paint, and ink
On view
Adela Akers, By the Sea, 1987, sewn and woven sisal, linen, and wool, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of KPMG Peat Marwick, 1993.54.1
By the Sea
Date1987
sewn and woven sisal, linen, and wool
On view
Maria Faedo, A Matter of Trust, 1994, paper on fiberglass screen with cotton thread, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 1995.21
A Matter of Trust
Date1994
paper on fiberglass screen with cotton thread
On view
Kay Sekimachi, Nagare VII, 1970, woven nylon monofilament, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1972.183
Nagare VII
Date1970
woven nylon monofilament
On view
Neda Al-Hilali, Medusa, 1975, mixed fibers, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Phyllis Mael, 2002.54
Medusa
Date1975
mixed fibers
On view
Emma Amos, Winning, 1982, acrylic on linen with hand-woven fabric, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Catherine Walden Myer Fund, 2019.15, © 1982, Ryan Lee Gallery, New York
Winning
Date1982
acrylic on linen with hand-woven fabric
On view

Verbal Descriptions

Olga De Amaral, Cal y Canto, ca. 1979, linen and gesso, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Isidore M. Samuels, 1991.109
Cal y Canto
Verbal Description

A thick, rugged woven quilt hangs on the wall, about three feet across and four feet long. Interlacing strips of earth-toned linen weave together to create a field of diamond shapes. Although linen, these strips appear bulky and scratchy, conveying the thick warmth of wool. The individual strips are multicolored but subdued. Their natural hues range from shades of tan and brown like unfinished stone, wood, or soil, to the rust-toned reds of a desert mountain. These colors do not create a recognizable pattern, instead coming together to create an abstract woven design.

The quilt appears to fold inward along its left and right edges, creating rounded folds of light tan fabric with a white textured coating, almost as if someone has run a paintbrush down each side. The textile sinches slightly at the middle, where a light brown, leather-colored piece of string is pulled taut, perhaps as a support mechanism for the pattern. At the bottom, the ends of the woven fabric hang free and raw. They are rough and uneven, adding to the weathered, well-loved, handmade feel of the quilt.

Neda Al-Hilali, Medusa, 1975, mixed fibers, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Phyllis Mael, 2002.54
Medusa
Verbal Description

A nearly seven-foot-long sculpture made of rope, cordage, and string hangs, suspended from the ceiling. At its largest width, it is twenty inches across, but its shape is irregular and three-dimensional. The object’s texture appears simultaneously rough and sensuously smooth, creating movement and dynamism that lends the sculpture an almost lifelike, organic feel. Its color palette of muted greens, blues, purples, and pinks is natural and earthy, like moss or seaweed, with a glossy sheen that conveys fluidity. The sculpture is made up of thick, sturdy ropes — like those one might use to tie a boat to a dock — that weave and wrap together with thinner threads. It is impossible to tell where one rope begins and another ends. At its top, the sculpture is knotted, narrow, and tight. It gradually widens and narrows again, ending in a taper of tendrils that reach toward the ground like tentacles. Some cling closely to the object’s mass, while others dangle, twisted and curled.

Kay Sekimachi, Nagare VII, 1970, woven nylon monofilament, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1972.183
Nagare VII
Verbal Description

This delicate sculpture hangs from the ceiling at almost seven feet long, with a narrow diameter of only nine inches. Created from sheer white netting, the oblong sculpture is almost transparent. Wispy tendrils of monofilament dangle in coiling curls from the sculpture’s base and drape over its top, lending it a jellyfish-like ethereality. Inside, visible through the netting, suspends a clear, horizontal ring that seems to hold the object’s shape. Layers of sheer netting appear to fuse together in some areas and fall apart in others, adding dimension to the work and creating undulating patterns like helixes or S curves. These gentle waves contribute to the airy fluidity and otherworldliness of the sculpture.

Faith Ringgold, The Bitter Nest, Part II: The Harlem Renaissance Party, 1988, acrylic on canvas with printed, dyed and pieced fabric, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1997.18, © 1988, Faith Ringgold
The Bitter Nest, Part II: The Harlem Renaissance Party
Verbal Description

A vibrant pictorial quilt, roughly the size of a king-size bed, hangs vertically. The viewer’s attention is drawn first to the two-dimensional scene at the center of the quilt, where twelve figures surround a long rectangular dinner table. The scene has been painted onto the quilt. The figures all have medium-brown skin, and each sits in a patterned chair, except for an elaborately dressed woman who stands in the scene’s foreground. Delicate white quilting stitches form a floral wallpaper over a rich, royal blue background.

The woman in the foreground wears a multicolored, multitextured item of clothing. Her outstretched arms hold the fabric out wide like a cape, giving it shape. In her right hand, she holds a painted tribal mask, perhaps African in origin. It features a rectangular nose, a square mouth, and long locks of straw-colored hair that fall from its crown. The woman’s cheeks are flushed a bright pinkish red like strawberries. Her eyes are turned upward, and her neutral expression conveys focus. She wears a silver headdress with dangling tassels that hang over her shoulder-length black hair.

To her left, a girl with curly dark-brown hair sits in a bright yellow-and-green spotted chair. She watches the woman with a neutral expression that verges on apprehension. The girl wears white shoes with low heels and a plain white long-sleeved dress that stops at her shins.

Each figure sitting at the table has a yellow-rimmed plate of food and a drink. The table is dressed with a bountiful meal, along with a few brown bottles. The pearly white tablecloth is decorated with small blue dots creating long lines and S shapes over the fabric. Shadows and highlights on the figures’ skin are depicted with darker shades of brown and lighter shades of pink. There are three women and seven men, all dressed in formal attire including suits with ties, bowties, and gowns of varying colors including bright red and light blue silver. All eyes point to the woman in the colorful outfit with various expressions. Some people look amused, others look uncomfortable and confused. Some look apathetic. Upon close inspection of each figure, names appear painted onto each chair in varying spots. Clockwise, from top left, the names include W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Percel Trombone Prince, Richard Wright, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Alaine Locke, Langston Hughes, Florence Mills, Aaron Douglass, and Meta Warrick Fuller.

The rectangular scene in the center is surrounded by a multicolored border of quilted half-squares that suggest the elegant forms and glossy touch of origami paper. Triangles of various hues and patterns have been stitched together to form the quilt blocks. Two lines of peach-colored fabric run down the left and right sides of the quilt, bordering the center of the scene and appearing like unfurled rolls of parchment paper. These lines contain text written in fabric marker, which read as follows:

  1. Cee Cee was meticulous about the house. Everything had a place. Cee Cee collected boxes and empty containers to put things in. Her mother sent her handwoven and hand-dyed fabrics from Africa which inspired her to sew an endless array of bags which she now used as containers for everything. Her method of working was always the same.
  2. First she selected colors and patterns of the brightly dyed fabrics and cut them into squares. And then she sewed the squares together in a random order to form long strips. And then she sewed the strips together to form large lengths of fabric out of which she made the bags, covers, drapes, costumes, et cetera.
  3. Celia was very disturbed by Cee Cee’s odd looking patterns. She learned in drawing to match colors tastefully and to select one pattern and repeat in some way to create a balanced harmonious design. Cee Cee had not gone further than the eighth grade in school when she married the dentist.
  4. Her education in the subtleties of refined coloration and design was cut short or was never learned. At any rate, Cee Cee, shall we say, turned a deaf ear” to any talk that her bags were tacky,” as they said in those days, and that she was a tasteless low class hussy to clutter up the dentist’s fine house with all that Mammy-made’ stuff.”
  5. From the time Celia was a little girl, she took on the responsibility to keep a conversation going at the dinner table. Since Cee Cee was deaf and never spoke in public, it would put the guests at ease to hear another voice other than the dentist’s.
  6. Celia became quite eloquent on the important topics of the day. She often vied with Cee Cee’s scrumptuously prepared dinners by talking too much and interrupting the guests’ praise of Cee Cee’s food. 
  7. Cee Cee’s roast duck and fricasseed chicken, macaroni and cheese, candied sweets, peach cobbler and at Christmas time, Cee Cee’s fruit cake, drenched in 200 proof Jamaican rum you could set fire to, were unsurpassed in southern cooking.
  8. Hardly a week went by that the dentist did not have a dinner party of 20 or more people in the large dining room. Almost every night there were two or three drop-in dinner guests. And on Sunday, after church, there was the family — Cee Cee’s cousins and her aunts and uncles and the dentist’s brothers and their wives and children.
  9. So Cee Cee prepared a large dinner almost every night. She loved to cook — but what she loved even more was to sew and dance. After dinner, Cee Cee put on a show of sorts that topped off the evening and put the conversation of such frequent visitors as Alaine Locke, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and Aaron Douglass at a standstill.
  10. Dressed in her oddly pieced and quilted costumes, masks and headdresses of her making, she moved among the illustrious guests to music only she could hear. Strange as it seemed, they looked forward to Cee Cee’s unusual presentations and thought of her as an eccentric undiscovered original.
  11. The times pressed the artists of the Harlem Renaissance into a regiment of social and political propaganda for the elevation of Race People. But what was Cee Cee doing? Was this art? No one dared ask that question knowing full well that the interrogator would only look like a fool and the one who answered would be one.
  12. And furthermore, no one wanted to offend the dentist or Cee Cee. Celia sat through these performances like an old man at a church tea. She hated Cee Cee’s unusual display and made it a point to let the guests and Cee Cee know it. My mother is a family disgrace.
  13. The only hope I have of not becoming the laughing stock of everybody is to get out of here and follow in my father’s footsteps and become a doctor. I cannot relate to her. As far as I am concerned, she is crazy like her quilts.” The dentist accepted Cee Cee’s shows as a peculiarity associated with her deafness.
  14. Cee Cee is just trying out something to express herself,” he’d say. She will be going for sewing lessons as soon as Celia is older and off to college and she can get out of the house.” Celia got older and went off to college and came home a doctor and Cee Cee was still right there making bags and dancing to music only she could hear.

Faith Ringgold © 1988 NYC

Carolyn Mazloomi, The Family Embraces, 1997, machine reverse appliqued, hand-stitched, and quilted cotton, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2002.20
The Family Embraces
Verbal Description

A stark, black-and-white pictorial quilt, about the size of a king-size bed, hangs horizontally. A thick black band borders the interior frame, which features an abstract scene of images on a white background, unified by a style reminiscent of African wood carvings. The quilt’s monochromatic palette relies on light and shadow to create the bold, dynamic shapes that make up these inklike appliquéd images.

In the bottom left-hand corner, three uniformly sized human profiles are positioned in a row. They face right and share a peaceful expression, eyes closed and lips pursed, as if blowing out a candle. On the quilt’s lower right corner, another set of three profiles mirrors the first. The face at the far right is the largest of the three, which become smaller as they near the center of the quilt. Their expressions are similar, but their ink-black eyes are open. Between the two sets of faces, three human figures with oval heads are shown from the waste up, standing shoulder to shoulder and wearing kente-like wraps that feature geometric patterns. Just above the faces and figures, a rough line that could represent a rock ledge or a horizon cuts across the quilt. Hovering just above this line are six disembodied faces, suspended and spaced evenly across the quilt’s canvas. Curling white lines over each black oval indicate the facial features. In the top left corner floats a black sun, its rays radiating across the quilt in irregular concentric circles, suggesting the warmth of sunlight. The quilt’s stitching is subtle and appears to trace the shapes of the scene and figures, adding texture and depth throughout. If one were to touch the stitching with a finger, they could follow the lines to imagine the scene. The border of the entire quilt is black and stitched with diamond shapes. At the bottom right corner of the quilt on the white background in black thread, stitched handwriting reads: The Family #5 by Carolyn Mazloomi 1999.”

Sheila Hicks, The Principal Wife Goes On, 1969, linen, silk, wool and synthetic fibers, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., 1977.118.2A-F
The Principal Wife Goes On
Verbal Description

Fibrous cords drape over a twenty-inch-wide rod to create the suggestion of a waterfall, which cascades fifteen feet down and pools on the floor. The other side hangs three quarters of the way down. Stone-gray threads bunch together to create the cords or skeins, which vary in thickness and texture. They seem coarse, almost like horsehair. In some spots the cords are slick and taut, and in others they are loose and billowing. Sections of brightly colored and tightly wound thread bind together each cord at irregular intervals. These vary in length and range in color, from firetruck and wine red to bright lemon yellow, burnt orange, loud magenta, pearl white, bright gold, and flowery pink. The ends of the cords have been left unbound; they spread out in fanlike sprays of thread.

Artists

Adela Akers
born Santiago de Compostela, Spain 1933

In 1965 Adela Akers traveled to Peru as a weaving adviser to the Alliance for Progress Program. In South America, she was deeply influenced by the innovative textiles of pre-Columbian Peruvian weavers, and researched ancient fiber traditions.

Neda Al-Hilali
born Cheb, Czechoslovakia 1938
Emma Amos
born Atlanta, GA 1938-Bedford, NH 2020
Lia Cook
born Ventura, CA 1942

Born in Ventura, California, Lia Cook studied theater at San Francisco State Universtiy before receiving her B.A. and M.A. degrees (1965 and 1973 respectively) at the Universtiy of California, Berkeley.

Matilda Damon
born Ganado, AZ 1962-died Las Vegas, NM 2005
Olga De Amaral
born Bogota, Colombia 1932
Maria Faedo
born Havana, Cuba 1946

Painter and conceptual artist. Castagliola came to the United States from Cuba in 1961. She has B.A. (sociology), B.F.A., and M.F.A.degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa and has taught art as an assistant professor at the university.

L’Merchie Frazier
born Jacksonville, FL 1951
Sheila Hicks
born Hastings, NE 1934
Media - Hunter_Clementine.jpg - 144033
Clementine Hunter
born near Cloutierville, LA 1886/7-died near Natchitoches, LA 1988
On a Louisiana plantation built on the labor of enslaved workers and reinvented, in the twentieth century, as an artists’ and writers’ retreat, Clementine Hunter painted everyday scenes she felt historians overlooked.
Susan L. Iverson
born Madison, WI 1951
Mariska Karasz
born Budapest, Hungary 1898-died Danbury, CT 1960

Self-taught embroiderer Mariska Karasz arrived in the United States from her native Hungary at the age of sixteen. The influence of Hungary's rich folk-art tradition is reflected in her early work.

Alice Eugenia Ligon
born Boone County, MO 1886-died Fulton, MO 1959
Agueda Martínez
born Chamita, NM 1898-died Española, NM 2000

Weaver, born in 1898 in Chamita, New Mexico. Attending primary school until 1913, Martinez first began to weave rag rugs at the age of twelve. In 1916 she married a weaver and schoolteacher and by 1937 had given birth to ten children.

Ed Johnetta Miller
born Spartanburg, SC 1945
Louise Nez
born ca. 1942
Else Regensteiner
born Munich, Germany 1906-died Chicago, IL 2003
Faith Ringgold
born New York City 1930-died Englewood, NJ 2024
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Miriam Schapiro
born Toronto, ON, Canada 1923-died Hampton Bays, NY 2015

Miriam Schapiro earned her master of fine arts degree at the University of Iowa in 1949 and in 1952 moved to New York City with her husband, the artist Paul Brach.

Cynthia Schira
born Pittsfield, MA 1934

Born in Providence, Cynthia Schira earned a B.FA. degree at the Rhode Island School of Design an an M.F.A. degree at the University of Kansas, where she has been on the faculty since 1976.

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Joyce Scott
born Baltimore, MD 1948

Joyce Scott relates her work as an artist to her family's craft traditions and to her African American heritage. In her jewelry and sculpture, she employs humor and irony to address cultural stereotypes and issues of racism and sexism.

Judith Scott
born Cincinnati, OH 1943-died Dutch Flat, CA 2005

Against the odds, Judith Scott became an artist of great renown, making fiber and mixed-media sculptures that encase forever-softened objects. Scott and her twin sister were born in Ohio.

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Kay Sekimachi
born San Francisco, CA 1926

Born in San Francisco, Kay Sekimachi studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland from 1946 to 1949.

Lenore Tawney
born Lorain, OH 1907-died New York City 2007

In 1954 Lenore Tawney abandoned sculpture for weaving and in the process, transformed the ancient craft of the weaver into a new vocation—fiber art.

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Consuelo Jimenez Underwood
born Sacramento, CA 1949

Fiber artist and weaver Consuelo Jimenez Underwood is the daughter of migrant agricultural workers, a Chicana mother and a father of Huichol Indian descent.

Katherine Westphal
born Los Angeles, CA 1919-died Berkeley, CA 2018
Claire Zeisler
born Cincinnati, OH 1903-died Chicago, IL 1991

Born in Cincinnati, in the mid-1940's Claire Zeisler attended the Institute of Design in Chicago (now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology), where she studied sculpture with emigre artist Alexander Archipenko.

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Marguerite Zorach
born Santa Rosa, CA 1887-died New York City 1968

Painter, weaver, graphic artist. Along with her husband, sculptor William Zorach, she was an innovator in the modernist movement in the United States. With her embroidered tapestries, she distinguished herself as an outstanding designer.