TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fiberarts Magazine Bites the Dust. Call to Action!!!

TAFA Member, Luke Haynes, on the last issue of Fiberarts Magazine

My latest copy of Fiberarts Magazine arrived on Wednesday and I was absolutely thrilled to see Luke Haynes, a TAFA member on the cover!   A few pages later, I saw that Lisa Call, another TAFA member, won an Award of Excellence at the prestigious Quilt National 2011.   Woo hoo!  Kudos to both of them!  They deserve all of this and more as both work at producing a huge and consistent body of work that rocks our textile community!

Then, under News and Notes, I saw that our esteemed local art gallery, the Yeiser Art Center,  announced the winners of the Fantastic Fibers show.  I attended the opening night.  The jurors, Freda Fairchild, Caryl Bryer Fallert (TAFA Member) and Judy Schwender (curator of the National Quilt Museum) are members of Paducah Fiber Artists, my local fiber art group.

Oh, then on page 32, Fiberarts had held a competition on artist studio spaces and Denise Labadie, yet another TAFA member, won the award for Best Organization/Storage.  Wowzers!  Fiberarts Magazine was turning into a place of familiar faces!

"Monastic Ruin at Glendalough" by Denise Labadie

With a shock, I read that this latest issue would also be the LAST ISSUE!!!!!   From Editor Marci Rae McDade:

"FIBERARTS has been both an impactful magazine to the contemporary art community and a labor of lover for us here at Interweave.  However, times change and the support for Fiberarts has not been strong enough over the past several years to continue keeping it in circulation.  As a result, the Summer 2011 issue of Fiberarts will be the last one we publish.  We at Interweave thank all of the subscribers, as well as the artists, writers, venues, and advertisers who have contributed to Fiberarts over the years."


THIRTY-FIVE YEARS of publishing and being a driving force in this community just goes down like that?  Without a fight?  Chat boards and forums have been discussing this in a rage.  We are left hanging, with so many questions...  Why did they not share with the community that they were struggling and that they might have to close?  Why didn't they try combining an online version with the published one?  How about making advertising rates cheaper so that more of us could purchase them?  Why? Why? Why?

Lisa Call, winner of the Award of Excellence at Quilt National 2011 explores human-made structures of containment.

Surely, Interweave Press did not make this decision lightly.  They most certainly examined other options.  Still, this is a terrible loss to the serious reflection of and on trends, value, emerging and established artists and news within the textile and fiber arts community.  Yes, there are other magazines, but none of them have the history and seasoned experience of this one, which emerged along with the people it represented at a time when textiles struggled for recognition as an art form.

What does this death of this important voice say about us as a group?  Are we really not able to sustain the businesses that represent and inspire us?  

This scares the $#*^@! out of me.  As most of you know, TAFA has been fundraising for a new website.  We are trying to raise $5,000.  That is NOT a lot of money nowadays, but if you don't have it, it could be the same as 5 million.  $1,500 has come in.  All of it, except for one donation has come from TAFA members.  Sure, they are the ones who will benefit the most from the site, but I have been surprised to my core that nobody else has contributed to our campaign.  We have over 1700 followers on our facebook page.  $2 bucks apiece would buy the new site. 

I have spent money on facebook, google, project wonderful and google ads.  Not one response.  I am exhausted by the effort and from the lack of support.  I know that when the new site is launched it will quickly become one of the major hubs for this community.  We will not be and have no intention of becoming a replacement for Fiberarts Magazine.  We have a different focus, but the same inspiration that that magazine offered will be there for everybody.

Caryl Bryer Fallert, juror for Fantastic Fibers

If a 35 year old institution can't make it, then how can emerging ones like TAFA hope to succeed?  Yes, this is the worst economy since the Great Depression, yet there are still plenty of people spending money on luxury items.  Are we, the artists and organizations that support and inspire fiber arts and textiles, not worth the investment?  It's a pretty depressing scenario.

So, here we go:


(Yes, I am yelling in a loud voice, waving an embroidered banner...)

Pick a fiber arts or textile cause today and give it your vote of confidence with some cash.  

Of course, I hope that you will want to support TAFA with its fundraiser, but it could be a group in your local community, another magazine you enjoy (may I suggest Hand/Eye or the Textile Blog?)  Or, buy something from someone who is making textiles or fiber art.  Connie Rose has a 50% off sale going on.  Our TAFA members who have Etsy shops can be found in our Catalog of Shops.  We are all people struggling to keep afloat.  Support us!

Fiberarts Magazine may not have put out a call for help, but I am doing so now.  

Alone, it's an uphill battle that may end up face down in the dust.  
Together, we can do anything!



  1. I think the demise of FiberArts Magazine has less to do with Textile artists than we might think. It is my personal thought that the owners of Interweave are more interested in crafts over 'craft'. Crafts sell and make money.
    I wonder whether the owners just wanted to consolidate functions and focus on Craftsy-quiltmaking over innovative, interesting, and sometimes challenging fine art?

    It is my contention that ever since 2009, FiberArts magazine changed it's focus and began a slow burn down to pushing their other publications. Who couldn't turn a page and see cross-advertising for their other magazines?

    I am saddened and dismayed.

    I think someone can come up with a well-written and exciting Textiles-centric publication online.
    Sure, we've still got Hand/Eye, Surface Design Journal, Selvege, and a few others, but why not start something new?

    There is a hole, it can be filled.

    You state in TAFA's mission that your focus is marketing your members artworks. That is a terrific mission.
    Why not start an adjunct online publication?
    If I were you, I go find Sunita Patterson (Editor of FiberArts Mag 2000-2008)in N.C. and ask her to head up a new venture.
    Sunita has a very strong skillset.
    It would be great to see her bring it out again.
    And do it online.
    All those advertisers who we used to see in FiberArts can purchase ad's for the online version of a new Textile e-zine.

    I'm just sayin'

  2. Christine has a great point--she states a very lucid argument for assertive campaigning.

  3. We got into a lengthy discussion over at LinkedIn and I ended up not responding here until now. Here is the LinkedIn link:

    Without repeating what was said over there, in a nutshell, an old world order is collapsing and with it, some institutions that are beloved. If they cannot integrate what they do with new media, they will not last.

    That said, I do believe that artists and supporting businesses are part of the problem of why we can't keep the places we love alive. There was a wonderful place in Chicago, The Textile Arts Center, which also closed when the neighborhood gentrified (many years ago. The founder actually went on to work for Fiberarts). I think that most artists, myself included, tend to stay inside their bubble and be insular. There are many reasons: lack of money, focus on work, etc., But, some of it also comes out of a self-serving approach of taking what they need and giving little back. It's a pretty natural thing, but other niches are more interdependent and do a better job of organizing their resources: musicians, interior designers, architects, etc.

    Anyway, as to starting an adjunct publication for TAFA, we are getting very little support from the community at large in fundraising for our new site. I am exhausted and have been putting all of my energy into building this site for a year and a half. One thing has to be stable before considering another. The new site will have several educational components and it will be a community hub, but publishing a print magazine is a huge effort and its not one that I have the skills, interest, or financial ability to do. I do want TAFA to work with other organizations and leaders within our communities. I did a search for Sunita, but didn't find a way to contact her. If you read this, do refer her over to TAFA. I am always open to looking for ways in which I can work with other people.

    We will keep plodding on and hopefully transform ourselves into something beautiful, meaningful and long-lasting.

  4. I read and enjoyed FiberArts because it was a serious art magazine, not because it was a fiber arts magazine, although that's the medium I'm currently choosing in which to work. I want to hear real criticism; I want to see innovative work from other artists, in other countries, with new ideas. I don't need, or want, a 'how-to' magazine with pretty pictures and nice comments. I want to know how to challenge myself, I want to know what's out there, to stimulate my mind and inspire me. I'm not yet able to work as I'd like (all the time) nor create a body of work to show and sell, but I aspire to do so, and I crave real dialogue like I got when I studied 'fine art', where design and composition were priorities, where we were required to be able to support our ideas in our art. If we couldn’t, then it didn’t work and it wasn’t good art, and we had to either address it, as the artists we claimed to be, or we bagged it and began again. The point made about artist support of each other and of our resources is a good one. I’m not a member of TAFA, but it’s quite true that once the new site is up, it will be a tremendous source and resource on all levels, and to not contribute is to turn my back on my peers and my own possible future. $2 each from 1700 Facebook members would be amazing and inspiring. What a message that would send, about how beefed we are to watch our art publications get tossed into the dust. And what a message it would send about how charged we are about each other, to help TAFA get this thing up and running. A year and a half of working at raising this money is nuts. I don’t have a lot, but I can give something. If all it takes is $2, that should be something the Facebook members could afford. I’m not a Facebook member yet, but I’m going to give my money and then join so I don’t look silly. Thanks for putting a stick up my bum and waking me up.

  5. Thanks, Anonymous! The support does not need to come from our facebook crowd, but it does need to come from somewhere. I've been trying and trying to get this fundraiser going and we still have a long ways to go. So, go see if you can stir up some action, wherever you are!


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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