In the Jackson Gallery...

Feral Stitching: Four Artists Collaborating

Featuring fiber art by Sarah Ashe, Janet Fredericks, Kari Hansen, Lily Hinrichsen

Beginning in early spring of 2021 four artists began a weekly journey into the unexplored topography of textile bringing with them needle, thread, curiosity, and each other’s encouragement. 

STATEMENT FROM THE ARTISTS:

There is a wildness in our approach to this age-old art of needlework. With little experience and much enthusiasm about this medium we decided, in our initial gathering, to jump in and follow our instincts. We came to it as painters — free of conventions, unencumbered, and joyfully fierce. We let our minds and needles wander, exploring a new territory of pattern, color, and process which we call feral stitching.

In our early days together we challenged ourselves by each of us selecting the same fabrics, then taking them home to stitch our interpretations. A week or two later we came together again to share our creations. The excitement of seeing each other’s work provided inspiration, further explorations, and technical learning that transcended the work itself.

As the weeks and months passed we each began to find our own methods and aesthetic. We shared fabric, embroidery floss, ideas, and discoveries from stitchery books and other cultures. It has been, and continues to be, a rich exploration where our backgrounds in other art disciplines inform our work, and where we find the comfort of collaboration in these uncertain times.

The Jackson Gallery is located in the lower level of Town Hall Theater, a community and cultural venue located in the center of Middlebury. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday noon to five, and an hour before any public events in the building. 

The Jackson Gallery will be transformed into a carnival of color to warm the winter months. Artists Fran Bull and Robert Black collaborate under the name Frobertan. Fran, an artist and writer, and Robert, architect and artist, share a vision for expressing the message of peace, harmony and creativity. The installation features a rollicking array of painted sculptures – stock characters inspired by Commedia dell’arte, carnival, circus, opera, and Greek drama. The wildly creative polychrome figures range in size from the Jesters and the “Laughing Heads” displayed on pedestals to the full sized “For David Bowie” seated in a high-backed chair over six feet tall. Fran Bull’s brilliant abstract paintings form the backdrop.

From their artists’ statement: “We wonder when Humankind will awaken to the realization that we – all humans, all animals, plants and seemingly inanimate life – are one organism, one brilliant, many-faceted being, living on a perfectly balanced planet, whirling in space.”

Award-winning sculptor, painter and printmaker, performance artist and poet Fran Bull has been exhibiting her work worldwide for over 40 years. Her art is included in numerous museum and university collections, ranging from the Brooklyn Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Guilin Museum in China. She makes her art in Brandon, Vermont, and Barcelona, Spain.

Robert Black is an architect, artist, teacher, and professional facilitator with diverse experience in design, construction, community building, group dynamics, as well as drama, improvisation and music performances. Collaborations with life partner, Fran Bull, have created art installations and special presentations in Vermont, around the U.S. and in other parts of the world.

The Jackson Gallery is located in the lower level of Town Hall Theater, a community and cultural venue located in the center of Middlebury. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday noon to five, and an hour before any public events in the building.