Working from the Boston area, Adrienne Sloane has shown her work nationally for over 20 years. As both a hand and machine knitter, her recent work often addresses the political while remaining mindful of the historical context of her medium. She has taught sculptural fiber both nationally and internationally as well as also having worked with indigenous knitters in Bolivia and Peru.
Her work has been published in Fiberarts, American Craft, Surface Design Journal, The Culture of Knitting and is profiled in the book, Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists. Sloane has work in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Goldstein Museum of Design, The American Textile History Museum and the Kamm Collection. Sloane’s curatorial work includes the sculptural fiber exhibits Beyond Knitting and Primary Structures at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and Metaphoric Fibers at the Textile Center in Minneapolis.
When did you feel you found your own artistic voice?
I think that finding my artistic voice is an ongoing process that has only strengthened with age. While my childhood exposure to the arts and later travels in Asia both informed my creative energy, my fiber journeys started in earnest in the mid-80’s when I bought a used knitting machine and began to teach myself how it worked. A book by Susanna Lewis and an article on the work of Judith Duffey inspired me to explore the sculptural possibilities of knitting.
I experimented for many years using hats as a form to play with color and design. However, but for the craft shows, it was a very solitary practice for me then. Returning to work after a studio fire in 1999, I found my work shifting in ways that more directly reflected my own thoughts and thus felt more centered. With a stronger and more public voice now, I feel I am using my craft best when I am working from a visceral place.
When did you feel your art was your own?
I am not sure why I find something so compelling in the structure of knit, but there seems to be an infinitely interesting way to creatively engage with it. The hats, practical, pretty and fun gave me a starting point of speaking through my work. That period of my fiber life now feels like it was an apprenticeship to my current work as it gave me the tools to be able to express myself without getting caught up in technical details.
Crafting my own artist statement has also helped me understand my own relation to what I do. It reads in part:
Knitting shapes have long been defined by the human form. By moving the context of knitting from clothing geometry to sculpture, knitting becomes a medium with a link to a rich and complex fiber tradition that has the power of history behind it. I knit to rejoin the frayed and unraveled places I see around me.
Was there any influence in your life that you felt that pushed your work to another level?
The 1999 studio fire was a seminal moment for me as it forced me to rethink what I was doing and why. During this hiatus, I got very involved in local arts advocacy groups. In 2004, finally having reestablished a studio and reclaimed my own practice, I found that that this advocacy work helped inform a new vision of what I wanted to be doing in my studio.
For teaching purposes, I keep an updated slide show of the work of current knit and crochet artists and I am constantly amazed by what practitioners are doing with it in both fine and public art. I also so appreciate those who have gone before and helped gain recognition for this field including those who have had the insight to advocate for its value while understanding the core connections and contributions fiber art has made to the arts.
Adrienne Sloane Resources