Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women exhibition, organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum


Cotton, wool, polyester, silk — fiber is felt in nearly every aspect of our lives. The artists in Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women mastered and subverted the everyday material throughout the twentieth century.

The thirty-four selected artworks piece together an alternative history of American art. Accessible and familiar, fiber handicrafts have long provided a source of inspiration for women. Their ingenuity with cloth, threads, and yarn was dismissed by many art critics as menial labor. The artists in this exhibition took up fiber to complicate this historic marginalization and also revolutionize its import to contemporary art. They drew on personal experiences, particularly their vantage points as women, and intergenerational skills to transform humble threads into resonant and intricate artworks.

Visitation Details

May 31, 2024 – January 5, 2025

Renwick Gallery [website]

Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006 [map]

Open Daily, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.


woven tapestry of a naked woman jumping with her hair flying in the wind, silhouetted against a background of colorful with red and yellow boxes of color

Emma Amos, Winning, 1982, acrylic on linen with hand-woven fabric, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Group Info

Among the artists included in this exhibition are Adela AkersNeda Al-HilaliEmma AmosLia CookOlga de AmaralConsuelo Jiménez UnderwoodSheila HicksAgueda MartínezFaith RinggoldMiriam SchapiroJoyce ScottJudith ScottKay SekimachiLenore TawneyKatherine WestphalClaire Zeisler, and Marguerite Zorach.


The project is curated by Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator; Mary Savig, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft; and Laura Augustin, curatorial assistant.