Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women

Claire Zeisler

Claire Zeisler appropriated off-loom knotting and wrapping techniques to create voluminous sculptures. A Celebration is a free standing and free flowing structure that declares fiber art is fine art. The artwork is made from 136 and a half balls of hemp and forty skeins of “jockey red” yarn. It took 597 hours for Zeisler and her assistants to meticulously wrap the threads around galvanized wire. 

Zeisler collected art before she created it. She was particularly enthusiastic about modern paintings by German Bauhaus luminaries from the 1920s and Indigenous and African masks, baskets, and textiles by unnamed artists. In the 1940s, her artistic practice began at the loom, where she made wall hangings inspired in part by the ancient textiles and baskets in her collection. In the 1960s, she abandoned the loom but not threads.