Invisible Lineage showcases the work of four influential mid 20th century fiber artists—Mary Buskirk, Lydia Van Gelder, Mary Walker Phillips, Katherine Westphal—alongside works of four late century artists, Pat Abrahamian, Pam Moore, Karen Hampton, and Janice Sullivan. The juxtaposition highlights the profound influences the earlier artists had on a second generation of artists working in the fiber medium. A wide array of objects and textiles drawn from each artists’ collective bodies of work illuminate the invisible lineage between the first generation of ground breaking artists and the later artists they inspired.
From the late 1950’s through the 1980’s these textile pioneers—Mary Buskirk, Lydia Van Gelder, Mary Walker Phillips, Katherine Westphal—each created a large body of work that focused on a specific technique or combined multiple processes to create their innovative works. Weavers Buskirk and Van Gelder both pushed the possibilities of the loom by creating tapestries and sculptural works or exploring ikat dyed traditions. Although Phillips began as a weaver, she is best known for her intricate and large scaled macramé and knitting that pushed these mediums from craft to art. Westphal explored surface design techniques like printing and dyeing, and incorporated paper into her hangings and sculptures. This is the first time these artists have exhibited together and collectively they provide a unique view into the textile roots of the San Francisco Bay Area and the important legacy that these women have left.
Like Buskirk and Van Gelder, weavers Hampton and Sullivan explore texture, techniques and personal identity, but use a wide variety of techniques and surface embellishments. Just as Phillips elevated the status of knitting and knotting, contemporary artists like Pat Abrahamian and Pam Moore continue to push art knitting with their complex and abstract knitted works, creating very different work than their predecessor. In addition to their creative link to Phillips, both have a personal link to the earlier artist, who was a friend and teacher.
Invisible Lineage is supported in part by a grant from Friends of Fiber Art International and co-presented by Lacy Knitters Guild.