LEWISTON – The work of seven artists who use beads to create jewelry, vessels, sculptural work and embellished textiles are on exhibit in the Hall Gallery at Lewiston-Auburn College through Dec. 17.

Works in the exhibition use beads as a primary medium or as an element in the work’s composition.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Maine Fiberarts’ “State of Fiber 2004,” a yearlong celebration of exhibits and events.

Artists in the exhibition are Eileen J. Achorn of Portland; Bonnie Bousquet-Smith, Bowdoinham; Jennifer Coakley, Portland; Regina Yvonne Grabrovac, East Machias; Natasha Kempers-Cullen, Topsham; Robinsunne, Rockport; and Jill Snyder Wallace, Brunswick.

Beads have a long and complex history in almost every culture as one of the oldest, most enduring artifacts of mankind. The earliest known beads date from 30,000 years ago.

Beadwork has been used not only for personal adornment but as status symbols and religious artifacts, from ancient ethnic to contemporary cultures. Today, scholars study the history of beads, with an increasing number of guilds being organized to educate and promote the art of beadwork.

Grabrovac, one of the featured artists, describes her inspiration as “linked to both my experience and those women who have beaded to celebrate their culture for hundreds of years. We have all used needle, thread and beads to express what is in our hearts.” Grabrovac’s work is contemporary in color and design though using a traditional Peyote stitch and technique.

Bousquet-Smith has a number of pieces in the exhibit from small purses to the sculptural piece “The Emperor and the Bird.” She is a lifelong needle-arts enthusiast and has taught at The Beadin’ Path in Freeport and Caravan Beads in Portland.

Robinsunne has small elegant vessels made from stitched fabric and embellished with beads. Landscapes, both real and imagined, are represented by Achorn with three beadwork pieces.

Kempers-Cullen, an award-winning fiber artist who has had her work in museums and galleries around the country, is showing three of her textile pieces, all embellished with tiny beads.

Coakley is exhibiting a series of small pendant bags, made by knitting tiny seed beads on thread. She adjusts the color, texture, and embellishments of each tiny pouch, to make them unique.

Wallace’s work is widely exhibited in museums and galleries around New England. This year, she had pieces in the 2004 Biennial Juried exhibition and the Contemporary Maine Fiber Art, both at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

Lewiston-Auburn College is located at 51 Westminster St. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The gallery is open to the public free of charge. For more information, call 753-6550.

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