Thread by thread, artist strives to make a difference

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TOPSHAM — Maine Fiberarts is displaying the hand-woven and mixed media screen artwork of artist Sarah D. Haskell of York through Nov. 30.

A reception for the “Thread by Thread” exhibit will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Maine Fiberarts Center/Gallery, 13 Main St. Haskell will give a gallery talk from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

Family, community and social justice are the foundations of Haskell’s artwork and her teaching. She received a bachelor’s degree in textile design from Rhode Island School of Design in 1976, and has traveled as far as Japan to share her passion for art.

As a master teaching-artist, Haskell guides art projects throughout New England in prisons, hospitals, mental health or community centers and retirement communities. These projects literally weave the fabric of the community into works of art.

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To create her art, Haskell uses labor-intensive, traditional textile techniques, including hand-dyed threads, handspun paper, woven fabric and sewn embellishments. Her well-known community work created in 2002, “Each One: The Button Project, a 9/11 Memorial” is a woven textile art that incorporates thousands of donated buttons, one for each life lost on Sept. 11.

In 2007, Haskell launched “Woven Voices: Messages from the Heart,” an interactive global art project inspired by Tibetan prayer flags, Shinto paper prayers and the Buddhist concept of impermanence. In the more than two years of this project, Haskell has received more than 2,000 paper, cloth and ribbon messages from Italy, Spain, Iraq, India, Africa, Germany, Texas, California and Florida. These messages are read out loud in a public location and then woven into prayer flags by community volunteers.

“I see weaving as a metaphor for community and the interconnectedness of human beings. Using textile techniques, I revisit the themes of home, family, language, social justice and the celebration of life. Thread by thread, I hope to make a difference in this world,” Haskell said.

The reception is free and open to the public. A loom will be available for anyone who wants to weave a prayer flag for the “Woven Voices” project.

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