Focus on Fiber

Pursuing creativity in the pandemic demonstrations May 29 - 30


The Southwest Women’s Fiber Arts Collective is proud to announce their upcoming show titled “Focus on Fiber: Pursuing Creativity in the Pandemic”. Local fiber artists have been very busy this past year creating new and exciting work that is on display through May 31 at 200 W. Market Street in Silver City.

More than a dozen fiber artists will have their new work available for viewing, with some of the pieces available for purchase on the Collective’s website. Fiber artists will be

demonstrating their individual crafts on each of the two weekends of the show, from  10 a.m. to noon and from 2-4 p.m.. It's a great opportunity to see a variety of fiber art techniques.

On Saturday, May 29, 2021 from 10 am to 12 noon, Kathy Cole and Vicki Gadberry will be demonstrating quilting. Then from 2 pm to 4 pm, Blythe Whiteley will demonstrate silk painting and Mary Ragins will weave on a table loom.

On Sunday May 30, 2021 from 10 am to 2 pm Jean Hill will weave on the table loom while Susan Porter put finishing touches on handwovens. From 2 pm to 4 pm Pam Gibson will weave on the table loom and Suzi Calhoun will demonstrate spinning. The public is invited to come and meet the fiber artists and learn more about how fiber art is created.

As a young person, Kathy Cole dabbled in art but majored in philsophy in college and also earned a master’s degree in that subject. Later, a growing interest in economics and the environment led to a graduate degree in that subject. Moving to New York City, Cole pursued a career with a natural gas company but spent weekends in art museums, art galleries, and attending performances of music and dance. Along the way, she saw an exhibit of traditional quilts at a folk arts museum and later, one of contemporary quilts in a craft museum. Cole was inspired by the range of possiblities of this art/craft form.

Since retiring from the corporate world in 1999 and moving to Silver City, New  Mexico, Cole’s interests have centered on quilting and on organizations that support quilting, fiber arts, and the community. Her work ranges from the practical—based on the precise craft and geometric artistry of traditional quilting—to the more purely artistic—inspired by nature or places or ideas and using a variety of techniques.

Taught to sew at an early age, Vicki Gadberry has always been enamored with fabric. She has constructed clothing, produced handwoven items, and experimented with fiber and yarn dyeing techniques. Designing and hand stitching on small fiber art pieces is her favorite activity creating one of a kind fiber art cards and mini art quilts. She is a founding member of SWFAC and serves on its board. Her work can be found at Dragonfly Studio in downtown Silver City.

Blythe Whiteley has been painting silk for over 20 years, using various techniques and types of silk. She will demonstrate the gutta silk painting method, a quick color mixing (using the basics of red, yellow, blue, and black to achieve any color desired ) and a bit of textural tricks.

Mary Ragins has been creating with fiber as a weaver for the past decade. Sewing with her handwoven fabric and making one of a kind functional objects is one of her favorite ways to add an extra layer of joy to pulling cloth off of her loom. Mary is on the Board of Directors of Southwest Women's Fiber Arts Collective, and has taught Rigid Heddle Weaving at Wild West Weaving in Silver City.

Jean Hill started crocheting as a child with her grandmother's help. She learned knitting from ladies at a Denver yarn shop during middle school. By high school she was sewing her own clothes with her mom's help. Jean “dabbled” in other fiber techniques through a local guild, and took her first weaving course in 1999 from WNMU. Since then she's been primarily weaving, with the addition of learning to dye yarn and fabric through classes put on by local guild and SWFAC.

She has been enrolled at WNMU in self-guided weaving studies for six semesters, although due to COVID she'd continued studies at home since March, 2020, using her two floor looms and nice stash of yarns. Jean belongs to an informal weaver's study group in Silver City, which provides inspiration and sometimes group projects on particular weave structures or color theory. She has enjoyed taking online “weave along” classes on exploring color, overshot, and currently “stash-busting” since in-person classes have been scarce.

Jean joined SWFAC in 2005 when it was just beginning, and did volunteer work in The Common Thread gallery on Broadway.. She's served in several Board positions, as head of workshops and classes, helped coordinate Fiber Art Festivals and various sale events including pop-up galleries since SWFAC's retail store closed in 2016. Jean is currently treasurer for SWFAC.

After graduating from college Susan H. Porter studied photography and design at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., but fiber has always been her first love. She is passionate about color and often dye my yarns. The result is a unique blend of colors that can't be repeated, making her hand-dyed pieces one of a kind. She especially loves that fiber allows us to create functional art: beauty that can be used and worn as well as admired.

In 1986, while teaching elementary school in Norman, OK, Pam Gibson drove to OKC and bought her first loom...shoved it into her Ford Fiesta and drove home. She had never woven a day in her life, but her retired Army Colonel father had started weaving and she decided if she was going to have any connection with him, she needed to weave. 35 years later, and many people, places, and events in between, she is still weaving...loving putting together woven panels into a garment for someone to wear.

Suzi Calhoun has been fascinated with fiber since she opened her yarn shop, Yada Yada Yarn in 2005. Thanks to the generous Silver City fiber community she learned knitting, crocheting , weaving, dyeing , spinning and now sewing and quilting . Spinning is the common denominator in all of fiber....spinning the single thread that begin a piece is a mediating process that reminds us how this all came to be. Stop by and watch how a thread is made..... demos with silk and wool.

Artists whose work will be on display include: Mary Ragins, Jean Hill, Susan Porter, Charmeine Wait, Pat Bouchard, Vicki Gadberry, Suzi Calhoun, Blythe Whiteley, Donna Foley, Kathy Cole, Hosana Eilert, Cookie Murraye, Shannon Wilson, Liza Kuecker, Sharon Brown and Lynnae McConaha.

The exhibit would not have been possible without the community minded owners of the

building, Marsha Sue Lustig and John Eder who have generously donated the space. Lustig and Eder reached out to Silver City MainStreet to see how the space could be used. A Pop-up gallery space was suggested and now the former retail space is being used to benefit the community.

Due to COVID-19, there will be no in-person contact, however, this is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand the creativity that is still thriving in Silver City and support our local fiber artists. The exhibit can be viewed through the expansive windows.

SWFAC was founded in 2005 and is a local, all volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with the goal to stimulate and support successful cottage industry in the southwest. To accomplish this, SWFAC members nurture and empower one another. Both novice and skilled SWFAC artists enrich the community by fostering opportunities to gain new experience and expand talent as well as earn income from their art. Please visit SWFAC’s website at to learn more about the organization and this exhibit.