Fiber Artists Offer Windows Into Human Joy, Pain

Published 09.22.2015

The Gallery at Penn College

Fiber art and medical technology meet with “A View Within,” an exhibit by two fiber artists creating personal interpretations of body images captured by CT scans, MRIs, X-rays and ultrasounds.

Opening Oct. 2, “A View Within” is on display at The Gallery at Penn College through Nov. 1. An opening reception will be held Friday, Oct. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. The gallery will be closed during Fall Break, Oct. 15-18.

“This exhibition, with its portrayals of the workings of the human body, is a perfect fit with the many health science majors offered at Penn College,” said Penny Griffin Lutz, gallery manager. “This show also fits on our campus in general as it combines technology, in the form of MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds, with handmade, creative art. In the past, fiber art exhibitions have been very well-received. The medium is accessible and familiar and can offer visitors an understandable art form.”

“In Utero,” a textile piece by Paula Chung, 48 inches by 48 inchesBody imaging provides a powerful window for doctors to view dramatic, noninvasive images of our anatomy. As artists, Paula Chung and Karen Rips find these visuals compelling, with individual stories to tell about joy and pain. The images can be viewed literally or simply as shapes and lines, dark and light spaces.

Working separately from the same image, each artist interprets the beauty, strength and vulnerability of the human body through the medium of textiles. The result is a series of paired textile pieces. Chung's pieces tend toward realism, while Rips' works are generally abstract.

“These images are universal,” Chung said. “They cross religious, cultural and political beliefs, socioeconomic status, race and often gender. What they do not cross is age, nor do they reveal life experiences, wisdom or emotion.”

Chung, a Nevada resident, received silver and bronze awards at the 9th Quilt Nihon Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and her work was included in the International TECHstyle Art Biennial at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

Rips, of California, exhibited at the 2014 World of Threads Festival in Toronto and is a participating artist in Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge.

Both artists have been featured in Quilting Arts Magazine and have had solo shows at the former ArtQuilt Gallery NYC in New York City. They’ve also exhibited at Quilts=Art=Quilts, an international juried quilt exhibition at Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York, and at Quilt National, in Athens, Ohio.

Karen Rips, “Gravida 2 Para 1,” textile, 48 inches by 36 inches“Fiber is my medium of choice because it is tactile, easily manipulated and allows itself to be altered in many different ways,” Rips said. “Tactile elements are important in my work because they give the piece even more reason to get up close and look at the art. I create my own fabric, using a variety of surface design techniques, then experiment to bring the piece alive, often by incorporating ideas and elements from previous creations. The hours I spend in my studio nearly every day are fueled by the energy of having created something that has never existed before.”

The Gallery at Penn College is on the third floor of the Madigan Library. The gallery is open 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday; 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. In addition to serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and as a cultural asset for the college and community, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.