"The practice of weaving was invented as early as 27,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest forms of human technology. Textile art—which encompasses weavings, embroideries, tapestries, fiber arts, carpet design, and more—has undergone a renaissance over the past century, as artists have pushed the boundaries of what can be considered a textile, as well as how a textile can be considered art." -Artsy
The term fiber art came into use by curators and art historians to describe the work of the artist-craftsman following World War II. Those years saw a sharp increase in the design and production of "art fabric." In the 1950s, as the contributions of craft artists became more recognized—not just in fiber but in clay and other media—an increasing number of weavers began binding fibers into nonfunctional forms as works of art.
The 1960s and 70s brought an international revolution in fiber art. Beyond weaving, fiber structures were created through knotting, twining, plaiting, coiling, pleating, lashing, and interlacing. Artists in the United States and Europe explored the qualities of fabric to develop works that could be hung or free standing, "two or three dimensional, flat or volumetric, many stories high or miniature, nonobjective or figurative, and representational or fantasy." From: Fiber Art: Following the Thread, exhibition from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
In an engaging exhibition “Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present,” which was showed at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 2014, curator Janelle Porter identifies Lenore Tawney as one of the artists who pioneered tapestry’s transition, “taking the conversation away from craft to sculpture.” It’s still a contested legacy—and one often ignored.
"For this exhibit Porter, in a major scholarly effort, 'seeks to revise entrenched histories' by redefining the fiber art that emerged five decades ago as a “revolutionary” new category of art—both “painting and sculpture, drawing and sculpture, installation and painting, and most problematically, art and craft”—which, she argues, “positions fiber more firmly proximate to the explorations that have propelled art since the 1960s.” - Greg Cook WBUR ARTery
As tapestry artists moved off the walls, artists like Sheila Hicks was also one of the artists who made sculptures from cascading cords of brilliantly colored threads. “For me, it’s what has the emotion, the impression, the feeling you have when you come in contact with it,” Hicks says.
Meredith Woolnough's elegant embroidered traceries capture the delicate beauty of nature in knotted embroidery threads. Through a delicate system of tiny stitches she creates intricate and complex openwork compositions that are then carefully pinned in shadowboxes, just like preserved specimens.
Grossen's work pursues universal themes that emerged across disciplines, breaking ground via the medium of fiber sculpture. As curator and writer Jenelle Porter explains it: "Grossen pushes beyond this initial rupture with the rectangle and the wall to explore the weight of her material and its response to gravity, an investigation that aligns her art with broader artistic debates taking place in New York and elsewhere." Or more simply put, in Grossen's words: "First we broke with the rectangle, then we broke with the wall." Blum&Poe
Some additional reading and sources:
ICA Fiber Exhibition- 2014