Fifty brightly colored textile pieces representing Edwina Bringle’s 50-plus years of work in the medium are on display at the Toe River Arts Council’s gallery in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The pieces are singularly beautiful, but collectively, the body of work is striking for the larger story it tells.
“I’m interested in a lot of things, mainly color,” says Bringle, looking out over the installed exhibition. The theme of color has run through Bringle’s work over the decades, sometimes resulting in pieces with bold contrasts, and other times, subtle color variations creating an understated richness. Bringle’s process includes taking photographs to capture found color palettes. The photos serve as inspirational triggers rather than reference images on which she bases a piece.
Bringle began exploring textiles at Penland School of Crafts in the early 1960s. For 24 years, she taught weaving and textiles at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte until 1997, when she retired, returning to the mountain landscape of Penland.
Over the years Bringle has worked in a wide range of processes, preferring the possibilities that such a range allows over the limitations of a single focus. She has studied with a number of people and lived by this pragmatic principle: “Take what you want, and throw the rest away.” With this sentiment as a guide, Bringle has held onto the teachings that have been valuable or of interest to her, while not paying much mind to lessons or techniques that didn’t strike her curiosity.
A retrospective is an opportunity to look back. But it’s also a time for looking forward. Now in her 70s, Bringle is excited to continue exploring the natural dyes that she has used over the years and adding to her knowledge of dye chemistry. Bringle looks to new projects with this matter-of-fact approach: “I just keep working. I don’t even think about what’s next. I don’t even make a plan; I just do.”
“Edwina Bringle: A Retrospective 1964-2014” is on display through September 20. For more information, visit the Toe River Arts website or call 828-765-0520.