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What have we been up to you ask?

A quick look back on how we got here!

Maine Fiberarts had good sales of artwork during 2019, paying out over $3,000 to artists. Artwork sold included a hooked rug by Judy Wylie, shibori scarves by Kathy Goddu, stitched bags by Barb Taylor, art quilts by Michael Stevenson, and many originally-drawn and stitched cards by Arlene Morris (who donated all proceeds to Maine Fiberarts). Thank you, artists!

We began our customary winter break from January-March 2020, and closed the gallery to the public to work behind the scenes.

During that time, I met with Sara Timm of Maine Maritime Museum and recommended eleven artists for their upcoming exhibition called “Interwoven” (plus workshop instructors). I met several times with Kris Sandoy to plan our collaborative juried show with Northeast Feltmakers Association for November/December 2020.

I reevaluated my earlier decision not to take an exhibition of contemporary Maine fiber art to Rug Hooking Week in Ohio, and decided to attend if funds could be raised. Carol and I developed a budget and sponsorship package towards those ends which would be presented to a selection of Maine businesses who are supportive of the arts.

Carol and I continued finalizing text and photos for our upcoming publication, “Learning Fiber Art: A Guide to Maine Teaching Resources,” with intent to publish this Spring and to launch distribution. We kept artwork in our Topsham gallery for a planned March visit from Midcoast Senior College, an arts-oriented moveable learning program, and we added all items to our Online Art Shop. We worked on a new system for updating and expanding our online Bulletin.

However, just as we were preparing to reopen on April 1, news of the pandemic spread, businesses began closing, and a shelter-at-home mandate was issued. The rising number of infections and deaths, together with an uncertain future, ensure a devastating impact to community and to economic health.

At this point, Maine Fiberarts is closed and we are working from home. We have indefinitely postponed our show with Northeast Feltmakers and have canceled plans to attend Rug Hooking Week (Kathy Wright asked about 2022). We decided it was inappropriate to solicit sponsors for exhibits and travels and have not done so. The Senior College visit was canceled, as were all of our programs where the public meets, such as Fiber Friday (for the first time in 20 years). We put off a decision about our show with SAQA, Studio Art Quilts Associates, scheduled for July/August until June (but just learned that the Vermont Quilt Festival, which was to be their inaugural show, has been canceled, as has the Maine Quilt Show). We have applied to the Maine Arts Commission for funding, and are reassessing how best to help our community in the days ahead.  


—Christine Macchi

Above: "The Corona Virus Book," a work-in-progress by Arlene Morris

Carolyn Wollen and Christine visited Common Threads of Maine located in Westbrook, a program that is free to qualifying applicants to build industrial sewing skills and to acquire jobs (story on our Fiber Folio).

Speaking of the Pandemic

We have put together a list of resources to help our members navigate the rough days ahead due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you have additional links to add, please let us know. Susan Perrine, Kathy Goddu and several members of our Curtis Library sewing circle are making masks to distribute to hospitals and friends. Carolyn Wollen is donating fabric to Passamaquoddy friends to make masks. Susan Merrill is describing ways to weave using materials you have at home (a book jacket, etc.). PortFiber in Portland and One Lupine Yarn Shop in Bangor have issued requests to buy something online that they may pay rent and expenses. Markings Gallery in Bath has set up an Online Art Shop. Maine Fiberarts also offers an Online Art Shop featuring original work by our members. 

People are increasing visits to local farms for veggies, greens, cheeses and breads. Please make use of our Tour Map and Resource Guide posted at www.mainefiberarts.org to contact a farm...or maybe an artist near you. This time of year, there will be fresh fleeces, blended fibers, freezer lambs, and beautiful farm-grown yarns, and many things you can order. Consider adding your location to this free resource.

Above: “Spring is Coming,” Christine Macchi photo

Help Maine Fiberarts Help Others

One of our members recently sent in an early renewal. She then sent in 10 beautiful images of stunning, amorphous dark and interesting vessels and “towers.” Arlene and I were delighted. I told her I was in the middle of writing a grant to see whether we could keep going and that her work cheered us. Two minutes later, I received a phone call, and then a visit, only to be handed an additional check. “Oh my yes,” this artist exclaimed, “Maine Fiberarts has to keep going. Art will get us through this.” 

We are amazed. And grateful! Are you in a position to help?

Here are some ideas:
  • This email notice goes out to 1671. If everyone gave $10, it would go a long way to keeping us going during 2020.
  • Make a donation which will be matched by our private donor. (It’s the last year of this offer! Please help!)
  • Renew your membership early and it will be good through June 2021.
  • Make a purchase from our Online Art Shop and support an artist.
  • Use our Art Presentation Services (via our Online Art Shop) and hire Christine to photograph your work or to help you submit an online application to a show. Hire Carol to design a business card, postcard, storyboard (ask us), stationery, or simple website.
  • Visit “Once Loved,” a new category on our Online Art Shop offering gently used fiber equipment for sale. Recently posted: Cross-stitch supplies including frame, equipment, books plus a notebook of almost 200 colorful DMC threads. Also: 24” wooden Maru Dai plus weights, bobbins, books, and cones of cotton yans—everything you need to take up Kumihimo—the art of braiding. Check it out!

Above: Items from our Online Art Shop: Japanese-style sewn bag by Barbara Taylor; used equipment (Kumihimo supplies) offered for sale in "Once Loved" on our shop; detail of an art quilt by Michael Stevenson; and handwoven scarf by Rita Steinbach.

Now, we want to know...

In the midst of this pandemic and how it is changing everything, with gatherings and gallery shows prohibited, we are wondering how you think Maine Fiberarts can help support your creative work now and in the future.

Pick your favorite idea of the following, something that you would like to see or might use (Sorry there is only one choice here. We will be doing a more in depth survey later this year:

1) Use our Online Art Shop to sell  your items.

2) Have Maine Fiberarts create individual gallery portfolios or profiles of you and your work that are presented on our website for an upper-level membership fee.

3) Have Maine Fiberarts create "virtual" online gallery exhibitions of one or more artists that rotate periodically.

4) Expand our current fiber-related News Bulletin to include photographs and announcements from members. Similar to a blog.

5) Make small automatic monthly direct deposit donations instead of a larger yearly membership renewal fee. $5—$20 per month.

6) Make use of some or all of our art services: consultation, professional photos of your work, business cards, postcards, start of a simple website.

7) Just feeling pretty neutral about this.
 

Please write to us if you would like to choose more of these ideas or have other ideas of ways we can keep making an impact for your benefit.

On Our Fiber Folio

Click on any of the four photos to go directly to that story on our Fiber Folio.
New York Sheep and Wool Festival 2019
Harvest Hook-In 2019
Stephanie Levy at Monson Arts
The Common Thread

Did you know...

Each of the stories on Fiber Folio contains a gallery of small images. When you click on any of the images, you will see a self-running slideshow of large versions of all the images in that gallery. (Be sure to move your mouse away from on top of the image.) Try it!


Also...

If you have saved a ink to our Fiber Folio (we hope you have), you should change it now. Fiber Folio has its very own URL now: www.mainefiberfolio.com

Membership

Our membership year runs from June to June, but as we mentioned above, you can renew now and your membership will be good through June of 2021. Use the donate button near the bottom of www.mainefiberarts.org, or through our Online Art Shop, or call 207-721-0678 with your Visa or MasterCard, send a check to Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main Street, Topsham 04086. Grants supporting the arts are harder and harder to come by. Please support the group that is working hard to support YOU and the fiber arts.

 

Above: A contented sheep seen at last year's New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival.

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