Exploring Art Through Fibre: Rita Benson, Cathy Brownson, Karen Menzies, Rosemary Oliver and Marilyn Whitbread

October 6th, 2015 – November 1st, 2015

This exhibition of fibre art by five local artists is a sample of its many forms. These original works, some of which have been displayed in the Annual Oshawa Fibre Art Show, held each November, range from traditional to contemporary. Through the use of fibres such as wool, cotton, silk, paper and linen, each artist expresses emotions and feelings, through colour, texture and dimension, in many varied ways.

Rita Benson captures life’s experiences through the use of fibre, texture and form. Cathy Brownson is inspired by the beauty of nature that surrounds her, depicting local parks and gardens. Karen Menzies uses a variety of fibres in her contemporary designs and fashion pieces. Rosemary Oliver’s work shows her concern for the environment by combining science to draw attention to species at risk. Marilyn Whitbread finds the tactile and reflective qualities of silk in its many forms, enables her to express the beauty of nature through landscape and the changing seasons.

Fibre art has a tactile appeal: two dimensionally it resembles a painting, and three dimensionally it becomes sculptural. Each artist expresses their ideas and individuality through the use of fabric, fibre, threads, paints and more. Through this exhibition the artists hope to impart an enriched appreciation about fibre art and their excitement about the medium.

Artist Biographies:

Rita Benson

Rita Benson is an individual and family therapist who has been working with fibre art since 2009. Her work began with fabricating nests and needle felting small animals and figures. She now works with wet felting tapestries and vessels, while sometimes further embellishing with hand beading. She enjoys exploring combinations of colour, texture and form in her pieces which are designed to capture and symbolize life’s elements and experiences.

Rita Benson has had work juried into the Oshawa Fibre Art Show, the Tour de Forest Studio Tour in Haliburton, the “Art in the Fields” Show at South Pond Farms, and in the past she was a member of the Maple Lake Artisan Collective. Rita also teaches and personally works with the processes of SoulCollage® and art journaling as other forms of personal, spiritual and artistic exploration.

Cathy Brownson

Creative expression has always been central to her life, nurtured in the home and throughout her schooling. Cathy Brownson grew up in Oshawa during a period of carefully developed art programming that spanned from kindergarten to grade thirteen and gave her all the foundational elements of drawing. Up until the last few years, Cathy felt that she took that artistic grounding for granted. For her it was just “normal” to draw her own design for a project, to make greeting cards, do a series of paper weaving, or design an applique piece. In 2009-2012, Cathy Brownson studied under Margaret Ferrero, MPAC, at the Haliburton School of Arts and 2013-2014 acrylic courses with Al Van Mil at the Haliburton School of Arts. Cathy has exhibited her work in the Oshawa Annual Fibre Arts Shows, Oshawa Art Association Juried Art Exhibitions as well as Art and Culture in the Hall in Oshawa’s City Hall.

Karen Menzies

Karen Menzies began sewing life by making clothing and home decorative items.  For the past 34 years she has focused on quilting – for beds, walls, tables – and on applying quilting techniques to clothing and accessories.  Once a traditional handquilter, she now produces most of her work by machine using natural materials though she undertakes some embellishments by hand.

Taking and teaching workshops provides exposure to new and innovative techniques and memberships in art groups of like-minded individuals keep the creative juices flowing.

Karen shares her knowledge through lectures, trunk shows, workshops, and judging quilt shows.

Rosemary Oliver
Rosemary was born in England and moved to Canada with her family in 1980. Her mother taught her to embroider as a child, she learned to sew on her grandmother’s treadle sewing machine and she took advanced level needlework at school. She recently retired from a career as an Occupational Therapist. She describes her Fibre Art as “painting with fabric, fibre and thread” and her inspirations often come from nature. She uses a variety of media to create her two and three dimensional pieces, such as hand embroidery, appliqué, felting, weaving, hand spinning, paper maché, fabric painting and hand and machine quilting. She was a featured artist at the Oshawa Fibre Art Show in 2012 and has been showcased in “Surfacing”. Her art spans the boundary of art and science and a number of her pieces have been exhibited in scientific and environmental venues.

She is creating connections with the Toronto Zoo, Ontario Nature and the Rouge Park, to increase public awareness about issues and concerns in nature through her art.

Marilyn Whitbread
A lifelong resident of Oshawa, Marilyn was inspired by her grandmother and mother to embellish fabric through embroidery. Inspired by nature she has used her embroidery skills to add 3 dimension to hand painted silk using silk ribbon, threads and silk fusion. Marilyn has studied watercolour, silk painting , silk dying, tapestry weaving at Haliburton School of the Arts, and England, as well as many other similar courses. Her work has appeared in the Canadian fibre magazine “A Needle Pulling Thread”.

She has won awards from The Station Gallery, Whitby. She is a member of the Oshawa Art Association and has participated in the Oshawa Art Association Shows at Camp Samac. A participant for six years, she has coordinated the Annual Oshawa Fibre Art Show for the past three. Her work will be on display at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery during the month of October 2015. Marilyn has taught silk fusion, silk painting, silk ribbon embroidery throughout Ontario. Her goal and enjoyment is to introduce young people to create through the ancient arts of silk fabric.