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Paonia Inspires Local Fiber Art Installation

An interactive art installation on display now at the Blue Sage Gallery in Paonia was inspired by local residents and businesses. 

It’s Thursday night in Paonia. Elsewhere Studios is packed with people.

They’re here to see the work of the artists who are wrapping up their residencies.

On the second-floor of the studio is an art installation created by two women from California.

The upper portion of the display is a canopy of sticks arranged like an upside down bird’s nest with threads hanging down from it.   

"We used thread and we pulled that thread to make really, really long strands of it to hold these little wet felted cocoons," fiber artist Amber Imrie-Situnayake says. 

"And then inside of all of the cocoons are little bits and bobs that we either collected from the places we visited or that we made to represent what we saw when we were there," she says. 

Imrie-Situnayake made the cocoons with the help of fellow artist Adriana Villagran. 

"It represents I think the eclectic nature of our community."

Villagran says when they first arrived in town Elsewhere hosted an artist meet-and-greet. There they told people about their project.

"We had a little discussion about on what we were planning on doing [and] that we were interested in making cocoons [and] that we needed people to get involved," she says.  

Over the course of their residency the artists visited farms, local businesses and peoples' homes. 

Imrie-Situnayake says the work contains 27 handmade fiber cocoons. 

"We have ones that are representing the taco truck, Revolution Brewery, and Louie’s, and all these place that we were going out and seeing people at," she says. 

The work is interactive so the artists want people to get close to the display, touch the cocoons and see what they have inside. 

taco, fiber art, elsewhere studios
Credit Laura Palmisano / KVNF
This fiber cocoon was inspired by the Paonia taco truck.

One of them contains a lump of coal and another has dried lavender stuffed inside. 

Business owner Mary George contributed to the project.

"My donation was a handful of coffee beans," she says. "So there’s one little fiber house here that is full of coffee beans that represents the Backcountry [Bistro]."

George says the installation is creative.

"It represents I think the eclectic nature of our community," she says.  

Imrie-Situnayake says she and Villagran wanted to interact with people to fabricate portraits of their lives for this piece.

"I guess we kind of had a conversation about cocoons one night," she says.  "And the we were like why don’t we make cocoons to represent peoples’ homes because the cocoon is a temporary home and all these structures we live in are temporary homes. And so a big part of what my work is about is...how home resides within yourself and we just live in these structures."

The fiber art installation is on display at the Blue Sage Gallery in Paonia through March 21.   

It’s part of the Strings and Blings exhibit. 

Laura joined KVNF in 2014. She was the news director for two years and now works as a freelance reporter covering Colorado's Western Slope. Laura is an award-winning journalist with work recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Broadcasters Association, and RTDNA. In 2015, she was a fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
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