DENHAM SPRINGS — The versatility and variety of the many ways of working with fibers to create visual art is on display at the Arts Council of Livingston Parish’s Gallery at 133 Hummel St. near the Antique District.

The works of 16 fiber artists, members of the Contemporary Fiber Artists of Louisiana, went on display Saturday, at a reception for the artists. On display were about 40 creations from artists who hailed from throughout the area and state. Many of them attended the opening of the exhibit.

Bebe Tulley, president of the association, said the group chose the theme,“The Art of Fiber III—Hidden Dreams," to challenge fiber artists to create compositions that reflect dreams.

“Everyone dreams,” she said, “and we wanted our artists to interpret both the dreams that they have and perhaps hidden, unfilled dreams in the works that they create. We have some really talented artists whose creativity is reflected in what is now on display at the gallery.”

Yvonne Bayham, echoed some of Tulley’s observations. “Dreaming is an element of creativity. You sometimes don’t know where to start or how to fulfill your creative ideas and then thoughts will just come into your mind, almost like in a dream, and you go from there.”

The wide variety of uses of fiber in creating art is immediately noticeable. While all of the pieces contain fiber, many other elements are brought in to enhance the drama and beauty of a piece.

“While fiber art basically involves thread, cloth and paper, there are many variations of how to use those three in coordination with other elements. The world of fiber arts is broad and encompasses many different art forms,” Tulley said.

The works included sewing, embroidery, quilting, beading, knitting, felting, weaving, dyeing, rug hooking, braiding, macramé, smocking, tatting, basketry, needlepoint and cloth doll making.

Fiber artists also employed other artistic talents to add depth and definition. Some fiber artists started with a favorite photograph and created fiber work to complement the photo. Others used trace paper to outline work that was completed with fiber. Some artists also used paints and color pencils as highlights. Bits of metal can be incorporated into a fiber work as well as beads and small artistic objects.

Glen Parks, one of the artists, said when she travels or visits craft and other shows, she tends to pick up little things that might one day enhance a reaction.

Local artist Judy Momenzadeh said of the creative process, “I approach my works in different ways. First, I have an idea and then work on how I am going to make that idea into art. If you would see our studios, you wouldn’t believe what you see. Most of us have scraps of cloth, thread, buttons, beads, all sorts of things that we pick up here and there. You just look at what you have and think of what you can do with it,” she said.

Momenzadeh’s piece in the exhibit illustrates how something unexpected can be used. 

“I was digging through some things and found a half-knitted sweater that I started many years ago and just never wanted to finish. It sat there on a pile. I took a look at it one day and for me, it was an ‘unfinished dream.’ That was my inspiration. I placed it in the middle of my art piece and surrounded it with some other things and I had a finished work of fiber art,” she explained.

Mary Felder, president of the Arts Council of Livingston Parish, is showing a somewhat somber piece depicting the August 2016 flood. Her creatively sewn pieces of fabric depict what she saw as the flood waters rose around her home.

“As soon as something happens, be it good or bad, it can cause the artist to become creative. As I watched the homes of my friends and neighbors get swamped by the flood waters I was just overcome. It was a nightmare. I had to be rescued on a bridge and wound up spending several days in a hospital. But, I knew I wanted to capture something of the flood in fabric art. There is something of beauty in everything, even muddy water,” she said.

Katy Prescott said one of the values of fabric art is its versatility and the ability to use techniques learned from other forms of art. 

“Any medium you choose to create art comes down to a matter of using line, light and hue. I think a piece is as good as it reflects light and draws a viewer to it," she said.

While some of the artists said they do sell their works from time to time, for most of them, fabric art is a hobby. Prescott said of being a professional, “We are all artists in our minds, but few of us are full-time professionals.”

Wendy L. Starn, who owns Splendiferous Fiber, said of the plight of the artist, “Art should match your sofa, but you won’t always be able to pay for that sofa with your art.” She specializes in wearable art,

She specializes in wearable art, accessories and hand-dyed fabric at her home in Alexandria.

Tulley said the Contemporary Fiber Artists of Louisiana has 49 active members from throughout the state. The group meets quarterly to share ideas and promote their art. She said the artists learn from one another through constructive criticism, shared tips and suggestions on how to incorporate various techniques into their works.

Artists with works in the exhibit are: Barbara K. Skinner, Yvonne Bayham, Susie Blykal, Melanie Borne, Lisa Ducote, Mary Felder, Tracy Gallagher, Sally Gordon, Lucy Landry, Judy Momenzadeh, Jane Olson-Phillips, Glen Parks, Katy Prescott, Wendy L. Starn, Vicki Thompson and Bebe Tulley.

The fabric arts exhibit will be hanging through October. The gallery is open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.