What is Art? featuring Alan Neider

An insight and process behind the works of fiber artist Alan Neider.
May 11, 2024
What is Art? featuring Alan Neider

On the question of "What is art?":


"Everyone wants to be recognized, seen, noticed, appreciated. I believe this is in our DNA to leave something behind that says, ‘I was here’. 

Art, of course, takes on as many forms as there are artists. Therefore defining ‘What is Art’ is a difficult task. Anyone involved in the pursuit of creative production(s) that add to the human experience and knowledge is in fact an artist who makes art. 


The existence of art throughout time has served to enlighten, teach, explore, experiment, and push the limits of their medium, whether that is music, dance, painting, etc. One is reminded of the recent loss of two Artistic Giants that pushed the limits of painting and sculpture: Frank Stella and Richard Serra. 


Art serves to challenge the viewer (Richard Serra said “without the viewer there is no art”) to become involved/react with the it. Art encourages the viewer to think about what they are experiencing. Art serves to excite, to stimulate, to provoke, to motive, to surprise and to arouse the viewer. Art therefore can help the view with their own growth and development.  Art can also cause discomfort, infuriate, outrage, and anger. If art is too easy, pretty, and understandable it isn’t doing its job.


Finally, Art is and has been intricately woven and vitally important in all societies from the highly sophisticated to the beautifully primitive communities.." - Alan Neider


While we had Alan answer the prior question, we also got his insight on one of his most recent sets of work, the Tapestry Series, and what has become his inspiration for the series:


"Everything good, creative, intelligent (in me) stems directly from my grandparents. My grandfather was a tailor. As a child I watched as he mended piles of woolen garments on a Singer treadle sewing machine. Now I am sewing on an industrial Singer machine made in 1929 that has been updated with a powerful motor.


The ‘Tapestry Series’ is a continuation and extension of my years long work with fabrics and sewing. I named this group ‘Tapestry’ since most of the materials used here are textiles, no was paint was used in these works. (This is the only group that I have made doesn’t use paint). I am sensitive to any art that mentions textiles, fabrics, quilts, tapestry in the headline. I make point of seeing the exhibition(s) if possible or at least researching it online. I have seen the following exhibitions at the Met Museum: Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade 1500-1800, 2014. And American Quilts and Folk Art, 2016. These along with numerous gallery exhibitions that feature textiles. The standout is seeing the Gee’s Bend Quilts wherever and whenever I can.


Working with fabrics and making tapestries in particular invite viewers to touch the art, unlike a painting. I’m using a wide variety of colorful and highly textured clothing and fabrics, parts from old drawings and images from characters from cereal boxes. Unlike many geometrically symmetrical tapestries often seen, mine are abstract and put together more like a puzzle. The non-conforming boundaries that hold the tapestries against the wall invite the viewer ‘stay’ for awhile and enjoy the work." - Alan Neider





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Gabe Torres

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