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Transitional Space: Weaving a Web: Swamplands + Winslow

Updated: Apr 28

On Friday, May 10, 2024, Blubird Studio will begin the first part of a transition from a singular space just for my work, and start working towards a larger vision; one that will embrace, support and showcase other artists working with fiber as a fine art medium. My work within the larger art communities and guilds these last few years have brought me into contact with so many talented and innovative people.


Working in the straddle between arts pace, artisan space and guild space is nice; it gives an eagle eye, rather like looking through a prism. And a consistent truth is that we have seen huge shifts in latent bias in how fiber art is viewed and accepted within the exhibitional space, there is are still less opportunities for artists like myself to show their work in the way they would like when compared to opportunities for artists working in more accepted traditional mediums (at least I have found this to be the case).


Curating and installing fiber work represents its own unique set of challenges and needs. Fiber art can combine the elements sculpture, installation, 2D, even immersive, depending on the artist. When taken on balance, finding people within "traditional" fiber art setting that are able to separate craft constraints from fine execution and conversely, fine art settings that are able to separate craft bias and connotation from fine art philosophies is a lot like wandering through a forest looking for the perfect climbing tree. They're there, but there aren't a lot. And you fall down, a lot, while you search for one; especially for those of us creating the weird, the strange and unorthodox. I've encountered this in my own journey for years, but it's been hard to put words to. This past year, it's become clearer and clearer to me as I navigate the different curation and jurying environments and I advocate for artists trying to jury fine work from craft media components and subject fine fiber to judging standards in traditional settings, that there is a need for spaces that not only are open to this dichotomy, but embrace it with curiosity and enthusiasm.


I don't say this as a criticism - Quite the opposite. I am infinitely grateful to all the amazing jurors, curators and gallerists who have embraced my work and encouraged me along the way, and I'm a little taken back sometimes, still, at the wild pace of this ride I'm on. I have no complaints - but nothing I'm saying here is news to those of in fiber, or quite possibly to some of the readers who also work on "the other side" of the wall.  I've found excited, wonderful people working in the gallery and exhibition spaces. I would very much like to add my voice to that community.


Innovation in fiber art is a tough gig. It takes a different sort of eye to see it clearly, just as it takes a different kind of creating to warp space and form.


Blubird has grown, first from a spinning wheel and a book club out of a glorified closet to a teaching and community entity that stretches to venues and communities across the state, and countless communities. With the addition of COMMA, this identity has stretched even more and through that new identity, I can see a new path in this little web world I've been building for the last ten years.


A rising tide raises all boats. That is the nature of community. And fiber artists form a special sort of community subset within the larger art community, with our own set of unique needs and peculiarities. The more spaces that celebrate that and provide places for exploration and exposure, the better.


So when Beau Winslow, who I had the joy of working with last fall when Jozef Bajus and his fiber arts students from Buffalo State came to share in a day of flax and indigo processing as part of our field to fiber project, approached me looking for a gallery for his capstone, I was more than happy to take my own work down and open the space to him.



Since then, as I grapple with new venues and studio and gallery concerns as we approach our farewell to 17 Elm at the end of June, this new thought has been percolating and rising: What if Blubird became something that can be of service to the community of other artists? What if <gasp> this wasn't all about me? What could we build then?


Something pretty terrific.


Please join me on Friday, May 10 in welcoming Buffalo State University BFA candidate Robert Winslow as an exhibiting artist as we open “Swamplands,” Winslow's BFA Capstone exhibition and first solo show.


Winslow is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician. Born and raised in North Carolina, he received a BA in Applied Visual Art from North Carolina State University in 2008. 


His art practice incorporates tapestry, loom weaving, appliqué, and machine-assisted stitching practices. His approach to artmaking is underscored by research with subjects that include, but are not limited to, loom weaving during the Neolithic period, pre-Industrial botanical dye recipes, and marronage, which is the process of extricating oneself from slavery. Recent fiber work features stitch-painted landscapes of river and wetland waypoints along the Underground Railroad in Northeastern North Carolina and Western New York. By grounding his studio practice in research, Winslow explores connections between human experiences as they relate to history, geography, and the natural world.


Winslow relocated to New York City from North Carolina in 2011 where he worked in the sales offices of independent luxury lighting manufacturers by day and in the LGBTQ+ creative community by night. A working musician since 2017, he performs in spaces that cater to and celebrate underground LGBTQ+ dance and performance communities. He performs nationally and internationally as a solo artist under the name Reaubert. 


He also performs as MA’AM with musical partner Knox Sloop. Founded in 2019, MA’AM is a bi-monthly immersive audio/visual event with a residency at C'mon Everybody in Brooklyn, NY. Winslow’s music practices build on the phrase “same, same but different,” which is used as a creative prompt to investigate the repetition and variation of shared human experiences across sound, culture, space, and time.




Winslow moved to Buffalo in 2021 and received his BFA in Fiber Art in 2024 from

Buffalo State University as a student of Jozef Bajus. He will continue his educational journey in the fall of 2024 by pursuing a post-baccalaureate certification in K-12 Art Education at Buffalo State University. 



Blubird Studio is proud to host Winslow for his BFA Capstone Exhibition as the first solo exhibition of his collected work. He will also debut a handmade loom created as part of his degree program, and we will collaborate through the use of handspun yarns from my own neglected early body of work.


Swamplands will be on view from May 10 -18.


Robert Winslow can be found online at winslowstudiodesign.com and on socials at the following: @winslowstudiodesign, @djreaubert, @maamjams. 


About the Artwalk, if you're new here: The East Aurora Spring Artwalk showcases the working artists in its communities each spring and fall with a sprawling community-wide evening of art that brings artists and local businesses together and opens the doors of local galleries and artists’ studios to the public. 



Artists include local emerging artists as well as nationally and internationally recognized artists working in a wide array of mediums. Exhibits are combined with live music, entertainment and fine dining, linked together by a complimentary trolley service that runs between the venues, keeping the event inclusive and accessible. Art lovers can also stroll the village at their leisure, making stops along the way. The 2024 East Aurora Spring Artwalk includes 19 venues and over 50 exhibiting artists and will be held 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 10. Complimentary trolley service connects the various participating art venues.


Besides collaborating with Robert on a first piece on his HAND MADE LOOM (seriously), my work will be showing up front at 17 Elm as part of The COMMA's Artwalk show: Our Curators Show and Invitational. (More about that separately - this post is about Beau).


I hope you can join us for eat, drink, art and community on May 10 and raise a glass to new paths, for all involved.


For more information and a map of the locations for the spring Artwalk, visit musejar.com.


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