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"The Fisherman's Wife," Felting by Dr. Nan Travers, Featured in Feltmakers Guild Show

By Helen Edelman, manager, Exchange

February 7, 2012

Nan Traver's "The Fisherman's Wife" is created from wool with silk embellishment through wet and needle felting. She is life size.Dr. Nan Travers, (below left) director of the Office of Collegewide Academic Review, has three pieces in the Northeast Feltmakers Guild show “Creation Myths,” a fine art exhibition at Lapham Gallery in the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Center, 7 Lapham Pl., Glens Falls, NY, through Feb. 17.

"The Fisherman's Wife," pictured here at right, is created from wool with silk embellishment through wet and needle felting. She is life size.

Travers’ other pieces are “The Stork After a Long Delivery” and “Acoma Diarama.”

“Creation Myths” marks the 10th anniversary of the Northeast Feltmakers Guild. In recognition of this milestone, the show looks at guild members’ expressions on the theme of creation. The curatorial statement asks:

How can we explain our own creative process? What is our relationship to the archetypal creation stories that cultures around the world have told – through myth, art, and storytelling – through the ages, to attempt to explain ourselves and our place within the cosmos? And what does ‘creation myth’ mean in modern times – perhaps informed by present-day ‘stories’ from science or psychology? This work represents Guild members’ explorations on this theme as each interprets it.

Dr. Nan Travers“Creation Myths” also celebrates the parallels between the medium of feltmaking – an ages-old process of turning animals’ wool into fabric and object through the judicious addition of water and agitation – and the phenomenon of myth. Both carry an element of alchemy – the almost magical moment of transformation of the separate hairs of fiber into a whole, through specific movements of hands, echoing the alchemical power of myth to imbue ordinary objects and stories with profound meaning, transforming them into the symbols of the sacred of a whole culture.

Both feltmaking and myth telling share a long history as traditions deeply rooted in a kaleidoscope of cultures around the world – from the Middle East, to Asia, to the New World. They appear in history as answers to necessity: for needed fabric/structure to build homes (yurts), both functional and decorative objects and works of art; and for symbols and stories to relay a civilization’s beliefs. Merging these traditions, the feltmaking artisans through the centuries often decorated the surface of their felt with symbols of resonant meaning – earth, life, fertility, eternity. It is significant that contemporary feltmakers continue that history of necessity-innovation while exploring, in this body of work, both ancient and modern meanings of creation.

This exhibition is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.