CHECK OUT THE STRING, FELT, THREAD VIDEO
Featuring author Elissa Auther and artworks by Sheila Hicks, Miriam Schapiro, Senga Nengudi, Barbara Shawcroft, and more:
University of Minnesota Press | 248 pages | 83 color images | 2009
ISBN 978-0-8166-5609-7 | paper | $29.95
ISBN 978-0-8166-5608-0 | cloth | $90.00
String, Felt, Thread presents an unconventional history of the American art world, chronicling the advance of thread, rope, string, felt, and fabric from the “low” world of craft to the “high” world of art in the 1960s and 1970s and the emergence today of a craft counterculture. In this full-color illustrated volume, Elissa Auther discusses the work of American artists using fiber, considering provocative questions of material, process, and intention that bridge the art–craft divide.
Drawn to the aesthetic possibilities and symbolic power of fiber, the artists whose work is explored here—Eva Hesse, Robert Morris, Claire Zeisler, Miriam Schapiro, Faith Ringgold, and others—experimented with materials that previously had been dismissed for their associations with the merely decorative, with “arts and crafts,” and with “women’s work.” In analyzing this shift and these exceptional artists’ works, Auther engages far-reaching debates in the art world: What accounts for the distinction between art and craft? Who assigns value to these categories, and who polices the boundaries distinguishing them?
String, Felt, Thread not only illuminates the centrality of fiber to contemporary artistic practice but also uncovers the social dynamics—including the roles of race and gender—that determine how art has historically been defined and valued.
"The study of modern craft has only a few real stars, and none shine more brightly than Elissa Auther. Her innovative book is a challenge to more conventional histories of textiles and postminimal art alike, and an important contribution to feminist art history. Perhaps most important, String, Felt, Thread serves as the prehistory of our own cross-disciplinary movement. This is a book to be welcomed by historians, artists, and craftspeople alike."
—Glenn Adamson, Victoria and Albert Museum
"Absolutely critical for modern art history, and essential reading for artists working with fiber as a material in contemporary art. Bravo to Elissa Auther!"
—Anne Wilson, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
"Offers important perspectives on blind spots in art history and indispensable background on fiber within the arenas of contemporary art and art criticism."