HARRISONBURG — First Friday is a monthly celebration of art that spans across downtown Harrisonburg for residents to explore the local artisans and businesses that work to culturally enrich the city. If the speed and energy of such festivities seem overwhelming, then the latest exhibition at the art co-op may offer the oasis you seek.
OASIS Fine Art & Craft is highlighting art by Edda Duff and Joanna Gray throughout September in homage to mindful work in their show titled “Slow Cloth: The Joy of the Process.” Despite creating very visually different pieces, both artists work with natural dyes and fibers to produce one-of-a-kind textiles.
Gray uses a process called eco-print to take thrifted natural fibers and enliven them with soft colors derived from plants she picks in her garden. Gray upcycles silk, linen, wool and cotton materials by deconstructing, redesigning and dying them. She said the work has taught her to be mindful and appreciative of her environment.
“Because I work with plants, it’s very seasonal,” Gray said. “I have to slow myself down. I can’t rush the plants. You know, they’ve got their own timing. Sometimes you just learn to appreciate what’s there.”
As a co-op, the gallery always offers a look at various art styles by artists across Rockingham County. Featured artists, such as Gray and Duff for this month, have a larger collection of their work displayed on the second level that overlooks the main gallery, so visitors can explore all their new and old projects.
Growing up in Germany, Duff learned to crochet and knit in childhood. Once she learned how to felt from crochet, she began exploring the medium. Beginning with felt hats and bags, she has since expanded her craft into the realm of felt jewelry and continuously attends workshops to learn different techniques. Duff’s most recent project has been to create felt from raw wool and then dye it from the wildflowers that grow near her home in Massanutten.
Duff said the artform is unpredictable, but she loves how each piece is a unique creation.
“Wool is very forgiving so, you know, if you make a little mistake or something, it doesn’t show. Matter of fact, many times it can be a nice addition to it,” Duff said.
Barbara Camph is the secretary to the board at OASIS and a co-op member who works with stained glass. She has seen the growth of both artists and admires the versatility of Gray and Duff’s crafts.
“Each one’s different. She does them all individually,” Camph said of Gray’s work.
Camph encourages residents to come to Friday’s event from 5 to 8 p.m. so they can catch a glimpse of Gray and Duff’s work. Due to the natural process behind each product’s creation, once something is sold, it will not ever be available again.
“(Edda) sells out of her stuff quickly because we all love it, customers love it,” Camph said.
OASIS, located at the corner of Main and Water streets, will provide light refreshments for visitors. If you cannot come out on Friday, “Slow Cloth” will stay up for the remainder of September. The gallery’s hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.