Let's Talk About Art: Fiber artist profile: Martha Ressler


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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Fiber artist profile: Martha Ressler

Fiberart is any artwork created with textiles -- fabric, felt, thread or yarn. The artists use many techniques including knotting, weaving, wet felting, stitching, batiking, coiling, quilting, beading and embroidery. Some processes involve the use of machines and computers, while others employ ancient craft methods. The finished pieces can be anything from quilts, tablecloths and wall hangings for the home to stand-alone contemporary art displayed in museums and galleries.

Pittsburgh artist Martha Ressler, a board member of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, is looking forward to the Fiberart International 2013 exhibition, which opens Friday. It is a major exhibit and the only triennial for national and international textile artists. It is presented by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh and is held simultaneously at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside) and Society for Contemporary Craft (2100 Smallman St., Strip District).

Ms. Ressler feels like a groupie around some of the famous fiber artists coming into town. "When I helped unpack Patricia Mink's pieces, my heart skipped a beat," she says. "I felt such resonance with her aesthetic."

Her home and her studio are in Lawrenceville, and she often draws her inspiration from the industrial facilities and row houses of that area. Her work sometimes includes found material from her walks by the Allegheny River. The bits of garbage and scraps of metal only add to the industrial urban themes of her art.

Ms. Ressler's mother was an artist, which allowed her to see and create art in many media. She dabbled in painting, woodworking and even made her own clothes as a child. Ms. Ressler went on to study history and studio art at Oberlin College and earned her MFA in art history at the University of Michigan.

"I am concentrating on exhibiting right now, but I also enjoy the interaction with people that is possible at art fairs," she explains. "The fiber arts hold a particular fascination for me because of the textures, and I love creating little imaginary worlds."

The Shop at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts carries several of Ms. Ressler's quilted pieces. For more information about her work or the Fiberart International 2013 exhibition, which runs through Aug. 18, visit: www.pittsburgharts.org.

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