The New Textiles

Exploring Textile Art

Mobilia Gallery’s recently invited artists—masters in a number of fields—to create sculptural forms for an extraordinary exhibit, The New Textiles: Exploring Textile Art, which explores how contemporary technologies and traditional techniques and materials are used in creating differing visions of fiber art. The exhibit runs until November 15th

Among the many textile artists featured in the exhibit, visitors to the gallery can get close to nature with Australian Louise Saxton’s  portraits. Recognized for her fiber reinterpretation of classical bird and insect drawings by either Audubon or Edward Lear, Saxton created for Mobilia her vision of Edward Lear’s painting of two magnificent snowy owls,  Bubo and Snow 2104 After Edward Lear 1832, using reclaimed needle-work pinned onto nylon tulle. “I am not trying to be exact in 'copying' Lear's birds but rather create a new work after Lear, which allows the unique materials of antique and vintage needlework a new life. I have given the owl facing the viewer a quizzical look, more reminiscent of Lear's poem, than his painting,” she wrote about her submission to the exhibit. 

Originally trained as a painter, Carole Eckert discovered basketry after working with different media. "Coiling is such an ancient technique that no one is exactly certain when it first began. Though it is traditionally used to make vessels, I construct a myriad of coiled forms, including staffs, shrines and books. My pieces are often complex, but the technique is simple, requiring only a threaded needle,” she says. 

Her  pieces begin with symbols and stories including parables of good and evil, mythology and creation stories Her Mobilia submission, On the Nature of Beasts is a reference to the early bestiaries of the Middle Ages.

Jennifer Maestre’s sharp pencil sculpture Pokey is reminiscent of animal and plant species that possess the duality of desire and repulsion. Her sculptures explores the tension between beauty and danger. “Pencil points are transformed into beads by drilling holes into each. Thousands of points are woven together with thread or wire, creating flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils represent to me creativity, inspiration, striving, work, potential, and fun. Each sculpture is a manifestation of one or more of these qualities.” 

Fascinated with form and structure, Mary Merkle-Hess’s sculptural basket forms—landscape reports—are inspired by the midwest of her youth among the fields of grass and corn. Using reeds and paper, Merkel-Hess’s work evokes images of tall grass and fields. “I make baskets using a technique that I developed, a combination of three-dimensional collage and papier mache. The vessels are made over molds. Small pieces of paper are applied with glue to the mold and allowed to dry, thus creating a paper form that is removed from its mold and further manipulated.”

Lanny Bergner, recognized for his mixed-media sculptures and installation, fiber and sculptural basketry, has been creating biomorphic and geometric constructions and installations out of metal mesh since 1983. Using hands-on processes of coiling, fraying, twisting, wrapping, gluing and knotting, Bergner transform industrial screening, wire, silicone and monofilament into organic constructions. His works references the merging of industry and nature.

Western Massachusetts-native Elizabeth Whyte Schulze works with organic fibers to create sculptures which she layers with paint, using imagery from primitive cultures. Her artwork is inspired by her travels in the American Southwest to the Aboriginal Art Centers in Australia’s outback. Commenting about her process she said in an interview for the James Gallery,  “I layer images by intersecting and overlapping figure, design and text on the woven surface. I do not retire past images but continue to incorporate the older elements in innovative ways. My approach to working on the basket is to present a complex landscape of imagery that is visually challenging and personally satisfying.”

Count Your Blessing, Into the Woods and Red stitched by Tilleke Schwarz are inspired by the traditional samplers she learned to make as child in school in the Netherlands. Her teachers noted her work was untidy and questioned why didn’t she stitch like she drew. The comment triggered her to precisely do that. A needle is her paintbrush and thread the paint. Schwarz doesn’t use a hoop or frame, preferring to feel the cloth in her hands. Each piece can take six months to complete. She uses a variety of stitches and knots as well as other pieces of fabric in her work. Her collections range in narratives about animals, domestic issues and politics. 

For more information about The New Textiles, visit or call (617) 876-2109. 



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