The Arts Scene: Fiber arts are ancient, ever-changing

YAKIMA, Wash. -- One art form that is sometimes overlooked is the art of everyday things. Items that serve a utilitarian purpose such as clothing and furniture are often made with the same attention to beauty and design as something we see in an art gallery.

Working with textiles is one of the oldest forms of art in human civilization. It is practical, such as a blanket or clothing that keeps us warm — but the person who created it took the extra time to create an item of artistic significance.

The art of working with fibers continues to reinvent itself. One current exhibition reveals just that: the beauty and heritage of fiber arts.

This group exhibition at Yakima Maker Space includes artists Barbara Colbert, Debbie Sundlee, Becky Drew, Renee Miles, Deborah R. Houtz, Robin Rankin Coffin, Deborah Ann, Ginger Toomey, Katie Buckley, Lynda Otey, Pam Joslin, Vicky Nickelson and Jan Crocker.

The large work in the front window of the gallery, titled “Aroura Borealis” by Pam S. Joslin, is from the private collection of Heath Lambe. It is a hand-painted silk weaving that is a reflection of the arctic landscape that is the artist’s home — a woven impression of nature’s beauty — majestic mountains turned to pastels by the low winter light; brilliant hillsides of fireweed; lavender blue wildflowers along the banks of glacier green rivers; a violet found by clear mountain streams.

Several woven bags by Robin Rankin Coffin sit on pedestals. Coffin says of her work: “I’ve always loved basketry. From my teen years, I have been intrigued by the culture and art of Native people of the Pacific Northwest. I began working with my hands and fibers doing needlepoint and embroidery after high school. Inspiration came from photographed baskets with diagonal designs where I could adapt the diagonal stitching of needlepoint.”

A table runner by Becky Drew is also on display. “I enjoy trying a variety of fiber arts, helping me appreciate the history, traditions and skills involved in each,” she said. “This table runner is made with a gift of fabric scraps from my Aunt Bertha’s longtime quilting stash. The technique used is ‘Locker Hook.’ The fabric strips were folded and ironed to hide raw edges.”

The fiber art exhibition will be on display through June with public hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday. There is a public reception from 6-9 p.m. Friday.

In addition, Yakima Maker Space hosts a fiber art group from 6-8 p.m. every Thursday. If you are exploring the wonderful world of fiber arts and have questions, come down to 16 S. First St. in Yakima, where a friendly group of fiber artists can help answer your questions. Call 509-571-1215 for more information.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at

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