Contemporary Fiber Art: Crossing Thresholds

Jill curated the exhibition Contemporary Fiber Art: Crossing Threshholds which was held at The Launchpad in Carbondale, Colorado. The six fiber artists who participated (Jill Scher, Liz Sargent, Jan Schubert, Wendy Kowynia, Salley Mavor, Andrea Love} are interviewed about their work in this video.

See more about the exhibition here.

Origami Crane Installation

This installation contains 1073 cranes. In traditional Japanese culture, the crane was revered as a symbol of good luck and longevity. After World War 2, and the bombing of Hiroshima, the origami crane became associated with the idea of peace and migrated into western culture. This was in large part due to a little girl named Sadako Sasaki who was exposed to radiation when Hiroshima was bombed and subsequently developed leukemia. She attempted to fold a thousand cranes but died before she could finish them. Her story became well known in the west as well as Japan and there is a peace park in Hiroshima with her figure on a memorial. Origami cranes have become a symbol of peace internationally partly through her story. One of the cranes in this installation (the smallest pink crane on top of the single large pink crane), was donated by a woman who was gifted it by a Hiroshima survivor. She met him in the late 80’s in the Soviet Union when the Soviet block was dissolving. There was a Japanese contingent of people also visiting and they gave peace cranes as gifts on their stops. This crane is the last of the ones she was given. I feel honored to have it as part of this installation.


See the Crane Project Portfolio Page

This installation was conceived with a dual purpose. I wanted to enliven the space in the Third Street Center and also honor the idea of using the art as a peace installation. The larger cranes were made with hand-painted watercolor paper and are inscribed with words of positivity. Although I folded the majority of the cranes I also had much help from others. I extend to the following people a debt of gratitude for their help:

  • Beth Johnson
  • Katie Bannon
  • Sarah Johnson
  • Patrick Johnson
  • Leslie Johnson
  • Audrey Borba
  • Jennifer Johnson
  • Bsue Johnson
  • Elijah Norris
  • Chris Mullaley
  • Jan Schubert
  • Coco Goldman
  • Lola Goldman
  • Sofia Goldman
  • Vickie Brown
  • Caroline Norquist
  • Shira Singer
  • John Adamson
  • Brenda Pena-Mata
  • Juniper Zislis
  • Akaljeet Khalsa
  • Gesche Johnson
  • Britta Hadden
  • Joanne Jimino ( the donor of the crane from the Hiroshima survivor)

Special thanks for the Ro Mead Community Grant from Carbondale Arts in support of this project.

Jill Scher

Aspen Public Radio

Prayers for Carbondale

Last spring I was attending the Colorado Creative Industries summit in Breckenridge. One of the workshops I attended was presented by an organization call Community: Heart and Soul. They help communities gather information about what matters most to their citizens and then use the information in forging new paths for the community and their consequent decision making.

The Path of the Spirit Beckons

“The Path of the Spirit Beckons”, fiber, featured in Art For Change (May 4 through 25, 2018); Artist: JILL SCHER

What is your personal and artistic background?

I grew up in a family that valued and encouraged art making, music and spending time in nature. These were all values that stayed with me and have informed my choices in life. I have been lucky enough to live in beautiful places from my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, to 20 years in the hills of West Virginia and finally living in the Roaring Fork valley. Being surrounded by beauty is a gift that filters into my artwork. I want my work to be meaningful but I also have a need to add beauty to the world through what I create with my hands. I feel that creating beauty is actually a service to humanity.

What has been a seminal experience for you as an artist?

Well, foremost was the gift of being able to study textiles at RISD. Being surrounded by so many talented people and having the experience of doing nothing but make art in a structured environment for 4 years was a transformative experience. I was also truly fortunate to have a husband who supported me in this effort and was a full-time stay at home Dad to our 4 children allowing me to devote myself to my studies. Doing an artist’s residency with Wilderness Workshop was also a great experience where I was able to spend time making art inspired by nature and not need to consider time or price for what I was making.

Why do you make the art that you make?

Hmm. I was introduced to making things as an 8 year old when a neighbor taught my twin sister and I to knit. So I had that ubiquitous introduction to textile arts through knitting. Knitting was followed by weaving, spinning, natural dyeing and then print making and felting. Fiberarts is tactile and allows me to work pretty directly with color and form. Felting allows me to explore sculptural forms as well, which I find exciting. I am inspired by the natural world as well as architectural forms and geometry. I make both functional pieces, such as wearable accessories and home furnishings, as well as conceptual fine arts pieces. They are each satisfying to do for different reasons.

What are my hopes for the future?

I want to continue to create work I am proud of and expand and grow both technically and artistically. I hope to be able to continue to make art fulltime and have my work adequately support me financially.

Where am I when I am not making art?

I spend some time as a part time staff member at the Snowmass Monastery Retreat Center. I also try to spend time with my husband, kids and grandkids, or taking walks in local spots of beauty and reading.

Head, Heart, Hands in Fiber Arts

When I was 9 years old a neighbor taught my twin sister and me to knit. This simple act of generosity and time was my entry point into fiber arts and the beginning of my life as an artist. I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that had a fiber arts studio. It was in central Seattle in the 60s when the federal government was funding art programs in at-risk-communities to combat high drop out rates.

Our school had studios for fiber arts, photography, metal-smithing, and clay. I was introduced to simple weaving techniques that captured my interest in working with structure, pattern and color.  This in turn led me to take classes at a visual arts college in tapestry weaving, spinning and natural dyeing, and eventually (after marriage and 4 sons) to a BFA in textile design from Rhode Island School of Design.

Through the angst and confusion of adolescence, the stresses of young motherhood and living in poverty in Appalachia, the act of first imagining and then making textile art was the continuous thread that inspired and grounded me, and gave me a sense of foundation and purpose in life.

After moving to Carbondale, CO in 2000, I taught the Handwork program at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork for 9 years. In the Handwork curriculum for Waldorf students, the children are taught to knit in first grade and each succeeding year brings a new skill and new projects — all in the textile field.  There is an inherent wisdom in having every child learn how to knit, crochet, cross-stitch, sew and make their own clothes.

These activities foster patience, perseverance, and a sense of competence and pride. It is a privilege to witness the beam of happiness on a child’s face when she completes a project; particularly when I know the struggles she had to overcome to do so. But of equal importance is the fact that these children are gaining a sense of how to conquer a task and manifest an object that is functional and beautiful using only their imaginations, their willpower and their hands.

Working with one’s hands in a rhythmical way is therapeutic and soothing; much needed qualities in today’s hectic, technology driven lives. But it is also a connection to our history and the story of human evolution.  When I sit and spin yarn for the purpose of knitting a shawl, I am soothed by the rhythm of my treadling while my hands are engaged in their own steady motion of pulling out the fleece and releasing it, pulling it out and letting it go, over and over. But I am also peripherally aware that in the act of making yarn,

I am connected to the millions of woman (primarily) who have also made yarn in the past. They spun to clothe their families and keep them warm, an act of love, necessity, function and hopefully beauty as well, if time allowed. Textile arts were necessary skills for survival then and took much time, energy and patience.

I spin or weave or knit out of choice, as I don’t need to make my own clothing. However I do need to create objects I consider to be beautiful for the world. I do want our children to know that they, too, have the ability to create and manifest what is stunning, necessary and good for our earth and themselves. And I hope that each generation will find the time to pass on the skills that will enrich both our inner and outer lives so that humanity has the skills and patience to think creatively and manifest change and magnificence in the world.