We are makers, creators and artists whose work primarily features natural or synthetic fibers, including textiles, fabrics, paper, reed, yarn, thread, and more. Through Missouri Fiber Artists, we unite as a community that shares a love of fiber. Our work often is intended to evoke meaning that goes beyond the materials.
NEWEST MoFA MEMBERS
Susan Ferguson–Independence, MO
Kate Howell–Rolla, MO
Tracy Back–Wildwood, MO
Where do you live and where did you grow up?
I was born in Texas, but grew up in Tulsa, OK. I returned to Texas for college. I decided I wanted to become a college professor, and went to U. of Wisconsin-Madison for my MA and PhD in French. From there, I went to Mount Vernon, IA where I was a professor of French at Cornell College. Later, I helped found the Women’s Studies program, which I led and in which I also taught for the rest of my 35 year career. I helped to found a coop artists’ gallery in Mt. Vernon. In 2012 I retired and moved to Sunrise Beach, MO, to the Lake of the Ozarks where my partner and I had bought a vacation home in 2002. I joined the Lake Area Fiber Artists guild even before becoming a permanent resident.
Please describe your artwork. Why is this your chosen medium? How long have you been creating?
As a child, I learned to crochet, embroider, quilt, and sew from my grandmothers and mother. I didn’t take any art classes after elementary school, but always enjoyed making things from fiber. In 1984 I took a beginning weaving class from a colleague at Cornell, but couldn’t afford to buy a loom. Carpal tunnel syndrome and two operations prevented me from crocheting and quilting for a time, so I turned back to weaving and bought my first loom in 1992. The rest is history! My looms have never been empty of projects since. I like to weave objects that are useful, as well as beautiful. I became fascinated with the creative ways weavers around the world designed clothing with simple shapes and minimal cutting or sewing. I weave mostly clothing, viewing the body as a canvas to cover with art. Weaving is unique in the number of possible techniques to create pattern and design within the cloth itself. When you add the variety of yarns—colors, textures, optical qualities—there is no limit to what the weaver can produce. Like my grandmothers and mother, I am a recycler. I couldn’t bear to throw away the loom waste (thrums) that quickly accumulated as I wove. That was my impetus to learn tapestry—to use all that beautiful yarn. Almost all my tapestries are made from those short pieces left over from other projects. That is also the reason I do rag rugs, using tapestry techniques to create rugs and wall hangings that incorporate all the design principles of painting. As an educator and researcher, I am passionate about life-long learning and always increasing skills and knowledge. Aside from that first class, I am mostly self-taught. In 2008 I learned about the Handweavers Guild of America’s Certificate of Excellence and decided to tackle the daunting project of research and weaving the 40 samples covering virtually every aspect of weaving techniques. In 2012 I was awarded the Certificate Level I for excellence in technique. I had learned so much that I decided to proceed to the Level II certification as a Master Weaver. This involved doing an individual research project. I chose weaving clothing for plus-size women, and explored new techniques to create unique clothing that fit and flattered the main body types. I submitted my research and 5 “masterpieces” and was awarded the Certificate in 2016
How long have you been a member of MoFA? What benefits have you gotten or do you expect, to get from being involved?
I don’t remember exactly when I joined, but it has been several years now. Two members of my local guild are very active MoFA members and they encouraged me to join. I have attended one retreat, where I taught a tapestry class. The benefit I enjoy most is hearing about fiber exhibits in Missouri that I can attend and see the great work others are doing. I also benefit greatly from meeting other MoFA members, and this fall participated for the first time in a MoFA show (“Darling, You Look Smashing”) and was stunned to have my silk kimono win “Best in Show!”
Personal information that you would like to share or any other details you feel are important (family, other hobbies and interests).
Just as I learned fiber arts from the women in my family, my father taught my sister and me to handle power tools to build things. She and I built our first piece of furniture (a blanket chest for my mother) with a drill and hand saw on the balcony of my dorm in college. I have been building almost all my wooden furniture ever since. I have a fully-equipped woodworking shop and have even built 2 spinning wheels and a sailboat! My life partner Margaret and I enjoy living on the water, boating and swimming. I am a big reader, and am slowly plowing through all the French literature I bought on sabbaticals in France but didn’t have time to read while teaching. I am a born teacher—love to demonstrate and explain things—and I am teaching weaving whenever I get a chance!
Recent exhibitions, current projects and where can we see your work?
MoFA “Darling, You Look Smashing” art-to-wear exhibition, St. Charles, MO, Oct. 20-Nov.30, 2017 Current projects include commissioned baby blankets and my signature wraps. I am working to turn my research for the Certificate of Excellence II into a book on weaving creative clothing for all body sizes/shapes, using traditional garments as a basis for artistic expression in modern styles. I exhibit every year in the Lake Area Fiber Artists’ Fiber Fest in October.
MoFA 2018 Statewide Conference
Celebrating Forty Years of Missouri Fiber Artists
When: March 23-25, 2018
Location: St. Charles Community College
Accommodations: Drury Inn, St. Peters
Conference Chairman: Rhonda Schrum
Keynote Speaker: Dawn Edwards–Owner, Felt So Right
Membership Exhibit–Functional Fibers
Fiber Artists got their start by creating functional pieces for use around their homes. They used their creative talents to turn function into beautiful pieces of art. This show will feature useful household items such as baskets, containers, quilts, linens, etc. *Please enter your wearables in the fashion show. More info
Speaking of Fibers 2017
The reception is over, but you can still see this Fabulous show until December 15!
Speaking of Fibers! 2017 is a Missouri Fiber Artists (MoFA) members’ biennial; juried exhibit, exploring fiber forms and materials. Our 2017 exhibit theme is “An Altered Environment”.
Exhibit Dates: November 9 thru December 15, 2017