While bases of paint and clay carry most art exhibits, thread and stitches are the hems and seams of the annual "Fiberworks" show.
"Fiberworks," a juried fiber art exhibition, is showing through July 3 at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma Gallery. Only pieces made from fiber are allowed, although the restriction is far from a limitation, with artists creating quilts and soft sculptures and incorporating weaving, basketry, needlework, crochet, knotting, embroidery, knitting, felting and paper. Oklahoma artists created all the pieces in the show over the past two years.
"It's the only exhibit in the state that gives fiber artists the opportunity to have their work showcased," said Kay Moore, the co-chair of "Fiberworks."
While the exhibit features the fiber institutions of quilts and clothing, it also has uncommon creations like a knitted chess set and decorated gourds. Despite the unordinary appearance, even the most modern exhibit works are rooted in fiber traditions, and innovation is part of what brings new dimensions to the exhibit every summer.
"Each year, I think it can't get any better, but it always does," Moore said.
One of the exceptionally inventive works is a three-dimensional thread sculpture by Lynne Richards, a professor at Oklahoma State University. The delicate piece was named Best of Show.
"It has a solid look to it until you get up close, and then you see it's made of tiny threads that are woven, stiffened and sculpted," Moore said.
After 31 years of the annual exhibition, "Fiberworks" continued its tradition of bringing in an outside juror to choose pieces from the numerous submissions. Each year, this encourages the development of a unique exhibit, as the juror brings her own stylistic tastes, as well as a fresh look at Oklahoma art.
The 2009 juror was Jiseon Lee Isbara, a fiber artist and associate professor who leads the fiber art program at the Oregon College of Art & Craft in Portland. Out of 140 entries, Isbara chose approximately 70 pieces by 49 artists to show.
"Our juror this year tried to look at things from an eclectic point of view," said co-chair Karen Collier. "She purposefully included a lot of different types of pieces to have a broad representation of what's going on in fiber arts in Oklahoma, rather than pieces that only fit a certain view."
The finished exhibit weaves other materials into the fiber art, with collage and paint on canvas, twigs, found objects and beading adding to the works, while the shared organic media binds the pieces into a cohesive show.
"I suspect most people react to fiber arts the way I do, which is to the texture and the tactile quality," Collier said. "It's very much handmade and it feels good in your hands. You can build on a base of skills in many directions. And you can do things with soft or hard materials or things that appear soft, or soft materials that appear hard and make them take on un-fibery characteristics."