MAM Yarn Bomb & Fiber Art Exhibit Explore New Territory

Discover how these Jersey-based artists get creative with different materials in an exhibit on display through June 16.

Jan Huling’s The Gown: Affinity is a mixed-media dress that includes beading. Courtesy of Jan Huling / MAM

A virtual rainbow of knits, crochets and other wonders of weaving adorn the trees on the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) campus. The various styles and designs, from images of nature to experimentation with color, are all a celebration of fiber art.

The art that envelops these tree trunks serves to welcome visitors to the museum’s exhibit, New Directions in Fiber Art, which opened this month. As a part of the New Jersey Arts Annual, this exhibition not only highlights the versatility of fibrous material in art, but also showcases artists either living or working in New Jersey.

When one thinks of fiber art, the first images that may come to mind are those of yarn or cloth. However, as these 42 artists demonstrate, the landscape for this art form is vast. It Comes and It Goes, by Jeanne Brasile of Little Falls, incorporates Braille newspaper and watercolor paint along with thread. These elements create a geometric depiction of nature that, according to the artist, can evoke images of tornadoes or ocean currents, all the way down to cellular life.

Jan Huling’s The Gown: Affinity also speaks to the variety of materials under the umbrella of fiber art. The dress is a colorful mixed-media piece that includes beading.

“My goal is to transform mundane forms into spectacular, meaningful, hypnotic works of art,” Huling says in a statement about the piece.

Gail Stavitsky, chief curator at the museum, hopes that the range of works on display pleasantly surprises visitors. “Working in quilting, embroidery, weaving, knitting, and even with neon, these artists have truly pushed the boundaries of fiber arts,” she says.

Courtesy of Jeanne Brasile / MAM
Courtesy of Joan Diamond / MAM
Courtesy of Helen R. Kaar / MAM
Courtesy of Woolpunk / MAM
Courtesy of Patricia Malarcher / MAM
Courtesy of Monica S. Camin / MAM
Courtesy of Nancy Cohen / MAM

In fact, the art on the museum’s trees has moved the boundary beyond gallery walls and expanded it into the community. All of those works, a part of the MAM Yarn Bomb Installation, were created in collaboration with local artists and businesses. They will remain on display as long as weather permits.

Local artists decorated trees on MAM’s campus for the Yarn Bomb Installation. Courtesy of MAM

Not contented by bringing fiber art to the outdoor space, exhibit organizers aim to expand minds and spur conversation as well. Throughout the exhibit, family-friendly gallery labels, with the title, “Family Threads” in multicolor print across the top, encourage visitors to take a closer look at the art. The labels pose questions, asking viewers, for example, how they think a particular piece was made.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Store at MAM is selling one-of-a-kind, small-scale works created by the New Jersey artists. Slightly more than half of the artists have exclusive items available at the store, ranging from $25-$100. All of the pieces are true to the fiber art motif; some have already sold out.

New Directions in Fiber Art runs through June 16. General admission is $10-$12 and free for children under 12.

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