Fiber artist launches embroidery show at Gateway
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Anna West doesn't remember a time when she didn't embroider.

"It's part of the culture. We all learned how to play the piano and do needlepoint," said the artist, who is hoping to breathe life into the dying art of embroidery with a new exhibit.

West, along with fellow fiber artist Rachel Hayes, recently launched "Video Killed the Radio Star" at the Urban Arts Gallery in The Gateway.

By presenting traditional art with more modern themes, the two women are trying "to keep folk art alive" in the Internet age, West said.

In the show, Hayes has a piece that uses black-work embroidery, which was popular in the 15th and 16th centuries, and is made using only black and white cloth and thread. She has updated it with a single touch of color.

"My work was inspired by the 1920s trend that's happening now," she said.

Hayes is a self-taught embroiderer. She began with a kit that she purchased to make embroidered Christmas stockings for her kids.

West's portion of the exhibit focuses on the story of the music, movies and books that formed Generation X.

All of West's art is based on Mormon handicrafts, but she tries to put a twist on it from her generation. The pieces have technology theme and showcase how technology changes without considering the impact that it has.

"The theme of it makes a lot of sense to me because I grew up in that generation," said Rick Rose, who visited the exhibit with his wife, Michelle. "A lot of things that have been done way back have been filled up with digital this and digital that."

West noted that a growing movement toward crafting and "do-it-yourself" activities has helped make fiber arts, such as embroidery, an accepted art form.

"Craft is basically art with a function, and the lines are being blurred more and more," she said. "Not all of us are brave enough to hang it on the wall."

West added that if the same pieces were to come from other parts of the world, they would instantly be considered art. "If it came from Africa, we wouldn't question its artistic merit," she said.

Hayes uses the same art techniques that she learned throughout her education.

"To me, it's basically drawing with a needle and thread," she said. "You need the same artistic skills to make it look right."

Hayes and West will add pieces monthly, not only for the remainder of the year but also as they are sold.

"The artists are very creative," Rose said, "and I think that's what makes art, isn't it?"

ndecriscio@sltrib.com —

Video Killed the Radio Star

A new exhibit designed to breathe life into the dying art of embroidery. New pieces will be added regularly.

Where • Urban Arts Gallery, 137 S. Rio Grande St., at the south end of Salt Lake City's Gateway.

When • Through the end of the year

Hours • Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Closed Monday.

Cost • Free