Fiber Art
May 15 - July 19

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Claire Jones is from Washington & Melissa Thompson is from Montana.
This shared exhibit will be an installation throughout the entire museum.

Sponsored by: Mark & Carolyn Simonds and Holiday Inn Express

Claire B. Jones Artist Statement
My work combines an exploration of structural sewing with an interest in melding illusions on sculptural forms. I previously spent 30 years as an engineer, a woman determined to transcend the gender disparity and excel in her field. My art emerges from my desire to converge engineering with the time-honored traditions of stitch. Pushing back against the subtle social norms and gender stereotypes that limit rather than expand the disciplines of sewing and of engineering, I aim to transgress convention. This work demonstrates how engineering can be a pillar on which to invigorate and reinterpret the commonly accepted forms of stitch. In my work, thread is transformed from its standard utilitarian format, so that stitch becomes the star – providing the artwork its strength, its surface, pattern, and color.
Each piece starts out as sections of dyed cotton canvas which are stitched together to create an undulating surface. The surface evolves by layering and blending a myriad of machine stitched threads until the underlying canvas is completely covered. The seams are imperceivably joined and the piece is complete.
The sculptural potentials are numerous with this highly accessible yet, largely unexplored medium and tool. I invite the viewer to step into my space and nudge them to reframe their view on what they think they know.

Claire B. Jones Biography
Claire B Jones creates colorful, whimsical, free-standing sculptures by painting with thread on cotton canvas. The fabric evolves by layering and blending a myriad of machine stitched thread until the underlying canvas is completely covered.
Jones grew up in textile rich Paisley region of Scotland, surrounded by the dormant textile mills which dominate the landscape to this day. Although later in life she would study Art and Design along with Experimental Stitch at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center, she initially studied Software Engineering at Napier University in Edinburgh. This propelled her into a world of technology, pulling her from one technological hub to the next, through to her current home in the Pacific Northwest.
It is from the convergence of these worlds that her art emerges. Engineering and the time-honored traditions of stitch collide as she transgresses the boundaries of what can be created with a sewing machine. Jones hopes her sculptures – and the innovative processes out of which they emerge – generate a sense of possibility, a belief in our capacity to conceive and realize new forms.

Melissa Thompson Artist Statement
Materials, process, and stream of consciousness are the driving forces behind my work. By giving in to, and paying attention to these elements, the creatures can develop in ways that strict pre-planning does not allow for. This is not to say that I don’t pre-plan at all, because I do start with a basic idea and color scheme for each piece. However, when ideas arise throughout the making, I explore them and let the work evolve as it seems to fit the character.
From a very early age, I have loved learning the nuances of different art materials. Everyone has unique properties that lend differently to the work, and by getting to know many different materials, I am able to combine them in ways that can create unpredictable outcomes.
Process is the main reason I make art. When starting a project, I plan which materials to use, begin the search for color scheme, perhaps make some sketches, and start pulling from supplies. I am transported to a comforting state of mind and each step of this making journey is a dialog between myself and the work.
Through this stream of consciousness type of making, I am able to build character and folkloric back story into my creatures. When each has a unique set of material combinations, they invite the viewer to use their own stream of consciousness to wonder as to who these creatures are. They will speak to each person differently and that is what I am hoping for, rather than telling the viewer the story behind the creature.

Melissa Thompson Biography
I have been attracted to art for most of my life, and I was fortunate enough to have supportive parents and a high school art teacher who gave me the opportunity to work with many different materials.
In college, I focused my work on drawing, because I wanted to be able to draw anything I could imagine, and I preferred the texture of charcoal to paint. After receiving my BFA, and wanting to continue a career in which I could use the drawing skills I had acquired. I learned the art of tattoo. My career spanned 21 years and I was able to make many wonderful large-scale works.
Throughout the years I was tattooing, I continued to explore new mediums in which to make my personal work. In 2010, I discovered felt making, falling in love with the material and the making process. Over these past 12 years making felt, I have developed ways to combine it with materials that I enjoy using, including clay, glass, wood, painting, and sculpting.
My faux taxidermy creatures are a culmination of all of this exploration, and in 2021, I made the decision to leave tattoo and pursue my personal work by attending a Master’s degree program in Falmouth, England. In this program for Prosthetic Effects, I was able to push my ideas further and had time to develop my process using primarily sustainable and biodegradable materials, something I find to be increasingly important as a maker.
My design process is heavily influenced by color, patterns and textures found in nature. Each creature is made with the idea that it may have come from another time or place. I create areas of interest throughout the pieces with textural elements, evoking character and perhaps giving a little folkloric backstory to its being.

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