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On the Wall: Weavers converge on Spokane

Thu., May 21, 2009

Next week, the biannual Association of Northwest Weavers’ Guilds conference will wash over the River City, sending a sea of professional fiber artists, novices, students and enthusiasts from six Northwestern states and four Canadian provinces our way.

More than 430 participants have enrolled in the “Weaving Waves of Color” conference at Gonzaga University, which features a tapestry of seminars and workshops led by the field’s top fiber artists and artisans, including weaving, spinning and felting professionals.

A juried show, open exhibit and vendor hall will be free and open to the public throughout the conference weekend at GU’s Martin Centre.

Awards of excellence will be presented in categories including woven wearables, home interiors, decorative weaving (rugs, hangings, tapestry) and innovative interlacements in the juried show.

The open show, called “Wild Waves of Color,” will be judged by all attendees. Winners will be given People’s Choice awards.

On May 29, a sold-out fashion show aims to re-spin the boxy image of wearable art, ensconcing professional models in the latest trends in artful, fibrous fashions and hand-formed garments. The garments modeled in the show will be exhibited the following day in the Martin Centre’s Bulldog Room.

Spokane last hosted the ANWG conference in 1979 at Whitworth University, when it was still Whitworth College.

New this year is a gallery tour that stitches seven Spokane galleries with contemporary fiber art exhibits and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture to the conference. It was structured by Spokane artist Dian Zahner, a Spokane Handweaver’s Guild member, painter, Avenue West Gallery cooperative member and former Eastern Washington University weaving instructor.

The conference bus tour sold out early, but self-guided tours are encouraged.

Zahner submitted three large textiles to the ANWG open and juried shows, and is a featured fiber artist at ArtStyle Northwest along with longtime local weaver Betty Lukins, a Spokane Handweavers’ Guild member since 1947.

“Spinners, weavers, fiber artists, basket makers and so on are all in Spokane’s guild,” said Zahner. “As a weaver myself, I used to do the dyeing, but I couldn’t take the time to do the spinning because I was weaving about six hours a day.”

Zahner’s 6-foot-long woolen tapestry, “Northwest Trees,” took nearly 10 weeks to complete.

“It took me about three hours to do two inches,” she said.

Jennifer Zurlini can be reached at or (509) 459-5479.

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