Weaving Through Life

Posted by Paula Paine on May 23, 2011 in Alumni, art, "fine arts", "School of Arts and Sciences", "The College" Most of her life artist Marilyn (Foster) Grisham ’62 felt like she was out of step with general society. “I find that many artists feel that way. We see the world differently,” says Grisham. That’s why it came as no surprise 10 years ago when she and husband David purchased an old warehouse section in downtown Wichita. Built in 1895, the warehouse is not only their home but also her studio and gallery called The Fiber Studio. The gallery features one regional artist a month, covering all mediums of art. Often Grisham’s own landscape tapestries grace the walls of the gallery. Using the Flint Hills as her inspiration, she weaves and stitches threads and yarns to mimic the tall grasses as they dance in the wind. At one time Grisham only used a loom, but that is a very tedious technique. “I describe it much like a painter painting a quarter of an inch of a large canvas and then moving across and doing it all over again. It’s something that takes a lot of time.” These days Grisham finds herself behind a standard sewing machine more often than a loom. “Unceasing Wind” (pictured) is a machine stitching over sheer layers of fabric. She uses the machine to do free-motion stitching, building up layers as she goes. The use of photos helps bring her tapestries to life. In 1991, Grisham received the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award. “My art has enabled me to go to various places around the country and exhibit,” says Grisham. She has marketed her work at art fairs in New York City, Arkansas, St. Louis, and in galleries in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Chicago, Houston, and Denver. Grisham hasn’t always been interested in weaving. She became hooked on ceramics while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in fine arts at The College. Soon after graduation, though, she switched to fiber art. “I had a small house, a husband and a small child. I didn’t have all the resources that I had in Ottawa.” Weaving better fit her budget and lifestyle. “My husband has always been very supportive,” Grisham says. They first started a weaving supply store and then later purchased the warehouse section for their home and The Fiber Studio. Playing off the weaving term “warp” (the threads placed onto the loom), Grisham says, “You have to be warped to weave. I often describe myself as being on a side road as the world is traveling on the highway.”