Is fibre art a lesser art form?

I asked my mom recently if she still had any of her old macrame materials and supplies from when she explored the craft back in the day. “No,” she replied, “I didn’t think I would need those supplies to pass on to my kids…especially a talented artist like you”. What is that supposed to mean? Does she feel fibre art is below me and my artistic talent? Does she not see it as an art form at all? Is she disappointed that I’m choosing to dedicate time to exploring it? Based on her response, and the energy that I picked up on during our brief conversation, it seems that she feels fibre art is a lesser art form compared to the digital and traditional illustrations she is familiar with me creating.

She says where I shine is through my illustrations. But how can I truly shine as my most radiant and authentic self if illustrating currently drains me, depleting my energy to a dim and dull version of my true self? In trying to create work that was unique and original, yet conformed to the emerging commercial illustration trends, my creative process slowly evolved into something that was uncomfortable, unfamiliar and unenjoyable. I no longer “lost” myself in that oh-so desirable flow state because my creative process was no longer authentically me.

I’m not saying no to illustration. In fact, I can see how illustration can be woven (pun intended) into fibre art. Inspiration has even come knocking at my door, opening my eyes to the possibilities. What I am saying is that illustration, in the way that I came to know and practice it, does not appeal to me at the moment. What I loved most about illustrating was being able to transport myself into that flow state, and it was the process of creating that brought me there. I know I need to create. It’s what makes me feel most human, most alive. It’s what allows me to express those feelings and emotions that I struggle to make sense of. But I need to step away from the digital revolution of contemporary illustration that I lost my true self in. I need to say no to digital and return to simpler means. I feel called to work with my hands, to get back to my roots. Playing with fibres helps me connect my past to the present moment and opens a door for me to tap into my ancestral wisdom.

Over the past few months, I’ve embraced fibre art as a platform for meditation. The tactile and engaging nature of working with fibres calms my anxious mind. Oh how I’ve missed working with my hands! It grounds me in the present moment and connects me to my breath. As I meditate on the symbolism behind each knot, I find myself using my knotting practice to manifest intentions. For the first time in a long time, fibre art has offered me a meditative break from my life. It brings me back into that flow state of expanded energy, of inspiration.

But do I feel fibre art is a lesser art form? I feel it’s just…different. I feel that at this point in my exploration, I can’t compare it to the years that I’ve spent practicing, studying and immersing myself in the world of illustration through the mediums of acrylic, oil, and watercolour paints, or graphite, charcoal and pastels, or even through digital technology. I’m just taking my first steps in the fibre world, exploring and discovering the fibres, textures, and techniques for the first time. It’s like being in kindergarten, marvelling in wonder and curiosity at the feel of the cool wet paint on my fingers as I smear them across the blank white construction paper. To me, fibre art is just a different medium. It’s a new way for me to express myself. It’s a new material that allows me to explore a new, more authentic process from the beginning. As an art form, fibre art has the potential to evolve into something bigger and better for me. After all, it’s currently the medium I feel most curious about, most called to explore. So I’m choosing to follow this curiosity. And who knows, maybe this exploration of fibre art will end up being a gateway for me back to a more authentic creative process with the familiar analogue mediums I originally came to know and practice in my illustration career.