Friday, November 2, 2007

gerhardt knodel: the textile museum

Gerhardt Knodel unassumingly and somewhat professorily spoke last evening at the Textile Museum's New Lecture Series ( The esteemed textile artist (his 1978 work, Guardians of A New Day is shown above) is also the retiring director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art (

Knodel's animated and introspective lecture featured highlights of the recent exhibition "Hot House: Expanding the Field of Fiber at Cranbrook, 1970-2007." The lecture series, held in honor of Rebecca A.T. Stevens, Consulting Curator for Contemporary Textiles, was funded by Eleanor T. and Samuel J. Rosenfeld.

Knodel presented a slide show of exhibition highlights, thematically focused on a survey of major developments shaping the evolution of the fiber arts field from his 37-plus years of perspective. Knodel remarked, "The field of fiber has evolved in fantastic ways ... today, it is very potent." Of interest, were his thoughts on the language of fiber not being one of words and phrases, but of touch and physicality.

Knodel views 21st century as being one replete with significant change, change in our personal lives, change in the Textile Museum, and change in the field of fiber. He says that we find early 21st century textile works being jammed with bits and pieces, and that this is a microcosm of our world. As we are jammed together in terms of history, culture, political orientation, and vocation - the field of textiles is thirsty for inclusiveness, melding, and reforming or reshaping.

Knodel says retirement will bring him an opportunity to write a long harbored project - that of a book on the void having expressive meaning. As Knodel aptly puts, everything has an expressive life, but you have to come to it.