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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

ETSU Professor featured in Nashville Fiber Art Exhibit

January 20, 2007

Emerging digital technologies have greatly expanded the possibilities for surface design on textiles. Head of the Fibers program at East Tennessee State University, Patricia Mink is internationally known for her cutting-edge work using digital art with fiber. This summer, at St. Andrew's School in Sewanee, Tenn., Mink will conduct a workshop entitled "Developing New Traditions: Inkjet Fabric."

Mink's work will be on exhibit through February 16 at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in Nashville. Many pieces feature the images of pitted, distressed and crumbling walls, evoking the viewer's own sense of mortality and fragility. She received an award from Friends of Fiber Art International for the "Most Innovative Use of the Medium" for "Wall Quilt #25," a linen quilt depicting a photograph of a wall in Cordoba, Spain; the piece was inkjet printed, dyed, machine embroidered, and quilted. Mink printed her photograph of the wall on linen, as a whole cloth. She then did stitching on the wall's image to emphasize the crumbling texture and peeling paint that age reveals. Without knowing it was a photograph of a wall, the quilt was seen as a successful abstract design.

She recently exhibited her work at Emory & Henry College and was one of the fiber art specialists who presented a panel discussion to open the seventh biennial Craft Exhibition at the college.

Mink is the recipient of a major Research and Development grant from ETSU in 2004-2005 and a 2006 Individual Artist Fellowship ($5,000) from the Tennessee Arts Commission for her work in digital textile printing. Mink used some of the money to fund a one-month trip to China. She says, "Experiencing different cultures is an important part of my artistic work."

Her recent research includes exploring low-tech approaches to high-tech applications. Her current work explores the traditional layered quilt form, using new digital techniques for printing fabric as a means of establishing a visual dialogue addressing issues of contemporary culture. She says, "Drawing from historic associations with domesticity, comfort and home, the quilt form offers unique possibilities for developing content when combined with non-traditional techniques and unexpected imagery."

The images she prints on fabrics are primarily from her own digital photographs which have been combined and manipulated in Photoshop. Generally, these photographs are from her travels, and they focus on crumbling structures and aging surfaces as visual subjects rich in layers and metaphoric potential. She says, "For me, layers echo the processes of learning and understanding, while also evoking a sense of time."

Once the imagery has been developed in Photoshop, it is sent to an inkjet printer equipped with archival inks and printed onto pre-treated paper-backed fabric. She explains, "The resulting printed fabric is then incorporated into a layered 'quilt' form — although more specifically designed for the wall, as with tapestries — using multiple layers of a variety of fabrics, and 'drawing' back into the image through the use of hand and machine stitching."

Mink received her bachelor of arts degree from Kalamazoo College, and her master of fine arts in studio art (fibers) from Eastern Michigan University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has appeared in publications such as Surface Design, Fiberarts Magazine, Quilt National, Visions, and Fiberarts Design Book VII.