Pioneer of modern fiber-art movement to feature work at Center for Craft, Creativity & Design

Lia Cook, “Tracts Past,” 2010
Woven cotton, rayon, 81” x 51”
Photo: Lia Cook

From UNC Asheville News Services:

(Hendersonville, NC) – The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD) presents “Bridge 11: Lia Cook” a solo exhibition by this internationally recognized fiber artist. The exhibition opens with a reception from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, July 26, and will be on view through the end of October, at the CCCD, 1181 Broyles Road in Hendersonville. The exhibit is free and open to the public; gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. weekdays.

Cook is a pioneer of the modern fiber-art movement and was one of the first to utilize a digital Jacquard loom as an art tool. “Bridge 11: Lia Cook” includes large-scale weavings created on Jacquard looms from photographic images that have been digitized into a computerized code for the loom to read.

With threads acting as pixels, each work captures the distinct and compelling features of a face when viewed from a distance. As the viewer comes closer, the “pixels” of the image dissolve into pointillist fields of individual threads. The weavings present the viewer with traditional aspects of weaving, such as texture and pattern, as well as the intrinsic qualities of photographs.

The exhibition also introduces several new works from her recent art-neuroscience collaboration. Cook was inspired by her participation in TREND (Transdisciplinary Research in Emotion, Neuroscience and Development), a 2010 spring residency at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. During that time, she collaborated with Greg Siegle, a PhD professor of psychiatry, to record images of the brain that reflected the emotions viewers experienced as they responded to the stimuli of her woven faces. “I wanted to look deeper into understanding what a human being experiences when visually engaged in an object that has evidence of the hand,” said Cook.

In these new works, Cook overlays her woven portraits with colorful lines that represent the data she collected. “One unexpected visual result involved the use of Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) in which the fibers of the brain are able to be imaged using MRI technology,” said Cook. “I was struck by the similarity of these interlacing fibers to textile constructions. These images became a starting point for my latest work that combines the woven face with the fiber of the interior brain.” Cook and her collaborator also found evidence that viewers had different emotional responses to woven work than they did to same-size digital photos of the same work.

“Lia Cook engaged in a scientific study to decipher the human, emotional response to objects that are traditionally made by hand,” said Stephanie Moore, CCCD executive director. “We are clearly moved in a different way by objects that may be touched or held.” Cook explains, “We could see different responses in the brain … the woven image evoked a different kind and/or intensity of emotional response.”

A resident of Berkeley, Cook has been a professor of Art at the California College of the Arts since 1976. She has exhibited widely across the United States and internationally. Her work can be found in many permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Racine Art Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Cook has also been the recipient of many prestigious awards and special recognitions, among them a French Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Master of the Media for Fiber from the James Renwick Alliance.

“Bridge 11: Lia Cook,” is a traveling exhibition, part of the biennial Bridge Exhibition Series organized by the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more information please visit


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