Fiber Artists of San Antonio has a long and rich history!
This is what some of our longest standing members have to say about FASA.
By Jean Peffers, Honorary member and one of FASA’s founding members:
I think it was in 1972 that we organized CREATIVE STITCHERS with eleven members, including Barbara Friedson as president. I was the next president. The group was started when we took a stitchery class at the Southwest School of Art and Craft with Mary Heickman, a retired art teacher who moved to Somerset. She had taught the astronauts wives stitchery and formed a group in Houston and we decided San Antonio should have a group.
In a few years there where three chapters…..Houston, SA, Dallas….the first chairman of the conference in San Antonio in 1976 at the U. T. Health Science Center was judged by Amy Freeman Lee…the show hung in the reception area, and lecture hall in the auditorium. We had over 100 participants. Later, we moved to the Menger hotel for our next conferences …people liked the San Antonio Riverwalk ambiance. Since we enjoyed getting together with chapters on the years between the conferences, we decided to have smaller workshops in Salado. I think it was in the early 80’s…we made lasting friendships with our fellow artists and learned new techniques and brain stormed with the other two chapters. Unfortunately Salado Stagecoach Inn changed hands in the 90’s and it became too expensive to have the workshops there. Things had changed…Houston’s International Quilt Show had workshops and exhibitions, fiber stores became a popular way to access fiber interests, Southwest School of Art offered workshops and classes, the internet was accessible to most everyone, etc., but we did continue to have conferences. The last conference was hosted by San Antonio and Austin (they had just formed a chapter in 2007) and we hosted it in Kerrville. It was in early 2012 I believe. Dallas declined to do the next one in two years, and then left the federation, although it is still functioning. Then Houston could not get officers so they disbanded. We changed our name in the late 1980’s since we we’re doing a more variety of fiber work and not just stitchery…knitting, crocheting, dyeing, collage, paper pieces, fiber jewelry, etc.
Now as for the fashion shows…we, mainly Kathleen Lindemann and I, had been going to Houston for their shows and decided with Jane Dunnewold who was teaching complex cloth, that we needed to add a FASA fashion show for San Antonio, and so 25+ years ago we had our first style show at the Bright Shawl (the Junior League’s building)…the exact date can be verified through archives. We continued moving to different hotels, like the Omni, La Mansion, Oak Hills, SA Country’s Club….wherever we could get the best deals. I feel it expanded our membership since many people were mostly interested in fiber arts related to clothing and fashion.
In my 45 plus years of entering the Runway shows, it was my winning the special Warrior $ Award for Unusual, Inventive and Interesting piece juried by Nick Cave (an African-American artist who is famous for his fabulous Soundsuits, which are sculptural costume pieces, one of which is on exhibit at our North Carolina Museum of Art.) My piece featured chocolate Candy wrappers. The show hung in the Carver Cultural Community Center and Mr. Cave gave a musical dance performance. Of all the judges I feel he was one of the most famous, and we have had many great ones in our 45+ years. Another well-known artist, who came when Mary Heickman was still teaching, was Constance Howard from England. She is a world-renowned artist and author, with green or purple hair, and she would visit Mary, judge shows, and teach workshops.
Q & A:
What is one of your fondest (or funniest, or most remarkable) memory in the history of your involvement with FASA’s?
Receiving the Nick Cave award, making lasting friendships with members from other chapters at conferences and workshops, and friendships with FASA members, especially people I have told ‘you are creative and need to join FASA.’ Also the number of members who have gone on to become nationally ranked artists, teachers, authors (e.g., Susan Oaks, Jane Dunnewold, Susie Monday, Linda Rael, Lucia LaVilla-Havellin, Caryl Gaubatz, Renita Kuhn are a few).
What are some of the qualities that you see about FASA that keeps our organization strong through the years?
The welcoming and camaraderie of the members and the willingness to help others and learn from others, and hopefully not have personality conflicts that divide a group.
How do you see the impact of changes today (technology, fashion, communication) on our organization? What changes do we need to be mindful of in light of these influences?
There was no Internet when we started, only newspapers, newsletters, yearbooks, etc. Now we get most of our info on our IPads. It saves money and is quicker, but you must have personal contact, that is what is the core of the organization and their love of FIBER is all about.
What are some things you would like for us to remember about FASA’s history as we continue to move forward and evolve or stay the same?
Remember that we started with only 11 members and have grown to almost 150! Always remember our purpose: To promote and educate the public to fiber art through our gallery shows and the fashion show. I am so glad we now have a permanent location to have our shows and especially hope we can continue to have the fashion show every year.
By Caryl Gaubatz:
Image from: https://www.burchfieldpenney.org/artists/artist:lucia-lavilla-havelin/
A FASA honor was to have Lucia chair one of the annual shows in the distant past, when it was held at the Witte Museum. Lucia has many Fiber Arts connections, one of them being Patrica Malarcher, the recently retired editor of the Surface Design Journal. Patricia was juror one year. Lucia also invited JoAnn C. Stabb to be juror in 2001. The show was held at the Witte that year, also. Stabb was head of Textiles/Fibers Dept at UCDavis.
For more information on Lucia LaVilla-Havelin, visit the website: http://www.lucialavillahavelin.com/cv.html
By Sandy Edsall:
The Fiber Arts of San Antonio (FASA) organization was first started by Mary Heickman. She was originally from Houston and taught in the Houston school system from 1932 to 1964. According to her biography, she was one of the first “fiber artists” who began teaching fiber techniques at the request of wives of the astronauts who were living in Houston. She originally organized a group with the name of “Creative Sewers” and also taught throughout the state, including Dallas. In 1971, she moved to San Antonio whereupon she was contacted by the daughter of a woman who had attended classes given by Mary while living in Houston. That started her instructing in San Antonio, beginning at the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts. Dallas then started their organization and, at that time, a state group was formed. The original San Antonio group began with 11 members, one of whom is Jean Peffers, who is still an active member.
The organization had the name of “Creative Stitchers” in San Antonio, but in the mid-1980’s the name was changed to more accurately reflect the group – Fiber Artists of San Antonio. The organization continued to flourish.
The first FASA Runway Show was held in 1995. A few members (Jean Peffers, Kathleen Lindermann, and others) attended a Houston Fiber Arts runway show. After that show, the members decided they could do one, also, in San Antonio; and proceeded to organize their first show. That show was held at the Bright Shawl facility. Subsequent shows were held at hotels, and the attendance grew. The beginning shows were initially to provide a venue for the FASA members to show what they could do with fiber – the garments were not for sale. The next shows became larger, with garments for sale, and eventually for the purpose of raising funds for scholarships for students in the fiber arts.