Hot Springs artist to show work in fiber arts exhibit

Barbara Cade created this hair hat sculpture, Hit and Run, in 2017, using wet wool felting, ceramics, wool, clay and paint.
Barbara Cade created this hair hat sculpture, Hit and Run, in 2017, using wet wool felting, ceramics, wool, clay and paint.

— Barbara Cade of Hot Springs is among 25 artists who will be featured in the 2018 Arkansas Fiber Arts Exhibition, which opens Monday in the gallery of the William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock.

This is the third year for the fiber arts exhibition and the second year that it will be held at the main branch of the Laman Library System. Rachel Trusty of Russellville continues as curator of the show.

The show will be on display through Jan. 5, with an opening reception set for 6-8 p.m. Friday.

The exhibition and the opening reception are free to attend, and no tickets are required.

Cade has participated in the previous fiber arts exhibits.

“I am excited to see the entries this year,” Cade said. “Every year, we have more fiber artists represented. There will be some very traditional pieces, but I expect to see some very innovative pieces using unusual materials. Thanks to Rachel Trusty for organizing us all.

“One of my entries this year is an Arkansas landscape that I call Springtime. It started with a photo of my backyard with this great dogwood tree, but as I worked on it, I kept adding details that weren’t in the photo. This scene could be many places in the state. One of my friends says it reminds him of Mount Magazine, where we go hiking once a year. Springtime is the most detailed landscape I have done.”

Cade also plans to exhibit two of her “hair hat” sculptures.

“These are landscapes of a different sort. The hats are part of my Bonfire show, which focuses on my growing concern for the Earth. The landscape on each hat tells a story of environmental destruction — one of the coral reefs, and another of the oil spill at Mayflower,” she said.

“My artwork celebrates nature in all of its manifestations of life; it is the universal bond. I strive to bring peace and harmony into my life and the lives of the people who view my work. I find inspiration in places I have lived, places I travel to, but mostly from the views of the woods and the lake from my studio. I like to magnify ordinary things in the environment. I am a full-time studio artist,” Cade said.

“From the beginning in 1968, I have focused on natural materials, concentrating on wool, first sewing, then weaving, spinning, dyeing and now wet felting, which is my primary medium,” she said. “However, I incorporate other techniques (weaving, wrapping, rya, embroidery) and other materials (bones, sticks, porcupine quills, horsehair) to recreate the textures and drama of nature.

“Each tapestry or sculpture is one of a kind. I work from my own photographs or sketches. Hiking, collecting various natural objects, observing nature and making art about nature to share with others give my own life peace and harmony. However, in 2015, when I saw the Animas River spill in Colorado on TV, I was instantly galvanized to somehow make a piece of art to remind people of this event. Documenting environmental disasters became an obsession, which resulted in my creating 10 ‘hair hats’ for my Bonfire show at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum in 2017. My view of the Earth has changed.”

Cade said she did not set out to be a fiber artist. She majored in German in college and, after graduation, started looking into art. She found an old loom that had belonged to her grandmother, and Cade’s love of weaving was born. She started as a traditional weaver but has expanded her craft. Cade is involved in every phase of creating her artwork — weaving, spinning, dyeing, felting, papermaking and frame making.

Trusty said the fiber arts show “has grown every year in terms of participants.”

“I look throughout the year for fiber artists in Arkansas to invite. This is the first year I invited male fiber artists to participate,” she said.

“The first year, I really wanted the show to be all women because of the history of fiber arts and to promote more female artists,” Trusty said. “I was open the second year to male fiber artists, but I did not know of any at that time in Arkansas, so it was only female artists again. This past year, I have come across a handful of excellent male artists working in quilting and mixed-media fibers in Arkansas, so I was very excited to have them participate.

“I changed the name of the show from the Arkansas Women’s Fiber Arts Exhibition to the Arkansas Fiber Arts Exhibition to accommodate the shift. I hope to continue to have men participate in the show going forward. The fiber exhibition is already on the schedule for the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library System next fall for [the show’s] fourth year.”

Gallery hours at the William F. Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange St. in North Little Rock, are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The gallery is closed on Sundays. Call (501) 758-1720 for more information.

For more information about the exhibition, visit

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