Fiber art is a unique kind of fine art that uses textiles like yarns, cotton, wool and synthetic fibers like nylon and polyesters to create artistic objects of varying sizes, forms and structures. Fiber art focuses on using fiber materials to create art pieces that are aesthetically pleasing and meaningful rather than functional ones.
The origin of fiber art can be traced back to the end of the Second World War, which witnessed a significant rise in the production of fiber, and before the end of the 1950s, a lot of fiber artists began to emerge. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that fiber art witnessed an international revolution.
Fiber art, like many other forms of art, has different techniques and principles which artists follow to speed up their creative processes, some of which include weaving, knitting, embroidery, braiding, quilting, etc. Listed below are some renowned fiber artists who have made significant contributions to the craft.
- Billie Zangewa
Billie Zangewa is a Malawian fiber artist whose work is composed of hand-stitched fragments of silk paintings that explore the historical stereotype and objectification of the black female. After obtaining her BFA from Rhodes University, South Africa, she worked in the fashion and advertising industries, and this played a significant role in her understanding of textiles. Zangewa uses her fiber art to showcase the overlooked and undervalued importance of the female gender in society and also to embrace her femininity.
Link to Twitter: https://twitter.com/billiezangewa1
- Cynthia Alberto
Cynthia is a renowned and award-winning fiber artist and a designer that teaches weaving in a Brooklyn-based studio (Weaving Hand) she founded. Cynthia focuses on using fiber art to bridge the gap between weaving and healing. She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Textile and Surface Design in New York City. As an advocate for zero-waste philosophy in design, she hosted a series of weaving workshops where recyclable materials were used for fiber art.
Link to website: http://www.cynthiaalberto.com/
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cynthiaalbertoweaver/
- Chiharu Shiota
Chiharu is a Berlin-based Japanese fiber artist skilled in using yarn and other objects like book pages, shoes and dresses to weave deeply moving and haunting large scale art pieces that can quickly stir emotions. Chiharu Shiota claims that most of her works are manifestations of her personal feelings and experiences. In 2008, she was given the Art Encouragement Prize in Japan to recognise her contribution to fiber art. As a fiber artist, Shiota uses her art to better understand her feelings and connect with others.
Link to website: https://www.chiharu-shiota.com/
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chiharushiota
- Gabriel Dawe
Gabriel Dawe is a native of Mexico City and a graduate of the University of Texas in Dallas with a master’s degree in fine arts. He uses sewing thread to craft site-specific works that examine the similarities between fiber art, fashion and architecture, and how they relate to the human need for shelter. Gabriel is aware that fiber art has long often been associated with the female gender, and he strives to challenge this notion through his craft.
Link to website: https://www.gabrieldawe.com/
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gabrieldawe/
- Anna Ray
Anna Ray is an award-winning fiber artist with a BA and MFA in Tapestry from Edinburgh College of Art. Anna’s work is characterized by its ability to evoke positive emotions through its sizes, colors and shapes. Most of Anna’s art is created using fiber, alongside other tools like sewing machines, needles, scissors, etc. She is the recent recipient of The Brookfield Properties Craft Council Collection Award 2021.
Link to website: http://www.annaray.co.uk/index.html
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annarayart/
- Caroline Kaufman
Caroline is a New York City-based fiber artist and textile designer with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She is famous for her large-scale experimental pieces, abstract fiber artworks, painted prints and the use of bright and vivid colors. Caroline enjoys telling stories, examining nostalgia through her craft using textures, colors and patterns.
Link to website: http://www.carolinerosekaufman.com/
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carolinekaufman/
- Nick Cave
A contemporary African-American with a background in dance and performance, Nick Cave has developed to become one of the most outstanding fiber artists of his time. In most of his works, his love for movement is portrayed through the form and structure of his fiber art pieces. One notable mention is “Soundsuits”, a work that embodies fashion, sculpture and performing art. Nick uses his art to exhibit his civic responsibility, including speaking out against oppression and racial inequality in his environment.
Link to website: https://nickcaveart.com/Main/Intro.html
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickcaveart/
- Niki Tsukamoto
Niki is an independent fiber artist based outside of L.A with a studio named Fiber Art Project which she shares with her husband, Yasuke. Niki’s personal artworks are characterized by the use of indigo dyes on fibers to make patterns that stir emotional curiosity. She also works with her husband on joint projects where he paints illustrations that Niki stitches together. Niki’s focus as a fiber artist is to preserve the gap between indigo dyeing and fiber arts.
Link to website: https://linktr.ee/Lookoutandwonderland
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lookoutandwonderland
- Sheila Hicks
She learned how to sew from her grandmother at a very early age and later obtained her BFA and MFA from Yale University School of Art and Culture. Sheila Hicks is one of the greatest contemporary fiber artists in the history of American fiber art. She has many prestigious awards to her name, and a lot of her artworks can be found in different museums around the world. Her fiber artworks range from miniature-sized objects to massive and site-specific installations, which feature raw materials like wool and synthetic thread. Sheila has hosted many exhibitions with
Link to website: https://www.sheilahicks.com/
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ateliersheilahicks/
- Tanya Aguiñiga
Tanya Aguiñiga is a Los Angeles-based designer and fiber artist from Tijuana, Mexico. She obtained her BA in furniture design from San Diego University and MFA in the same field from Rhode Island School of Design. Aguiñiga creates furniture, fabrics, wearable objects, sculptures, and site-specific installations out of various natural materials ranging from beeswax to wool to human hair. She uses her craft as a medium to address issues around culture, identity and gender.
Link to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tanyaaguiniga/
Over the years, many fiber artists have established themselves as forces to reckon with through their consistent and continuous creation of fiber artworks that are of great significance to the artist or the consumers of such art. What gives fiber artists their unique style is how they give life to their imagination through fibers, colors, design and patterns.