Fabric and stitches. Rough and soft surface. Colors, seen, from muted to vivid – yellow, blue, red, purple and green.
With titles like “Battlefield” and “Suffragist,” the work punches the gut as reminder of women’s experiences. It is beautiful, it is useful, and it is art.
Flagstaff artist Darcy Falk is featured in the Fall Exhibit at the Comet Gallery at Coconino Community College. Her textile art brings to bear a medium of expression that is typically associated with the functional – like clothes or quilts.
But these are not traditional quilts.
“Textiles are really just the medium, but that doesn’t define the work,” Falk said. “It’s like painting or working with clay. You can make it what you want.”
Falk’s small exhibit of her work at the Comet Gallery is a learning opportunity for the college’s students, said Alan Petersen, lead faculty for the Fine Arts Department at CCC.
“Darcy is a nationally recognized textile artist, known for her innovative quilting and fabric treatment techniques,” Petersen said. “She is also a highly respected artist and stalwart leader in Flagstaff’s art community.”
Petersen added that Falk was a founding member and early board member of the Artists’ Coalition of Flagstaff.
Falk’s attraction to art didn’t start as a life direction. Her training is in journalism and political science. Her impulse to make art arose from a passion; she taught herself and took workshops to expand skills that she learned as a child.
“Clothing and textiles are so … tactile,” she said. “Fabric is easy to come by and is typically relatively inexpensive. It’s also a little subversive,” she added, “to make something artistic out of items so ordinary and readily available.”
Textile art is one of the oldest forms of art in human civilization, according to information from My Modern Met, an online community that celebrates creativity. It’s the taking of functional items, like blankets and clothes, and bumping up the aesthetic for something with a freshness of perspective.
“I want to create something people haven’t seen before,” Falk said. “It’s also interesting to me to see how other people interact with the work, how they discover things I may not have been aware of as I’m making a piece.”
Her process in making a piece varies. She often starts with a strong idea, but it becomes an adventure that ends up in a much different place. She sometimes starts a piece with no plan, just to see where the material takes her. Often, she’ll dye or print her own fabrics, then cut and paste, use fusible-backed material, stitching and more. The result is deeply textured stories with powerful messages. The piece, “Battlefield,” refers to women who have died or nearly died from childbirth-related causes. Red poppies predominate the piece and strike a dark, emotional chord.
Falk said that she’s hopeful her work will give students an idea of the individual nature of an artist’s process.
“I hope they see the possibilities,” Falk said. “I want to encourage students see the potential for creativity with ‘traditional’ media and beyond. Look outside your chosen media, to see what’s happening in other fields. Cross-pollination between media – like fiber and clay, or fiber and painting, for example – can be really valuable and interesting.”
Petersen said that the mission of the Comet Gallery is to showcase the work of CCC students and faculty as well as notable local and regional artists as a way to create connection among the Flagstaff community, CCC students and faculty, and local artists.
“It’s really an honor to be able to present a small exhibition of Darcy’s work in the Comet Gallery at CCC,” Petersen said.
Larry Hendricks is the senior manager of public relations and marketing for CCC.