Accomplished fibre artist Margaret Blank of Mirror, Alta., will be this year’s featured artist at the Encore Art Sale — slated to run April 14 to 15 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC).
Blank works with various threads, fibers, fabrics, and paints to create stunning dimensional works of art.
She recalls that during her growing-up years, exploring art meant primarily painting or sculpting.
“If you didn’t paint something that looked like it was a photograph, well, you weren’t a very good artist,” she added with a laugh. But the interest in artistic expression was sparked early on.
“I come from a long line of knitters, so I first learned to knit when I was about eight years old,” she said. Embroidery came next, and her skills continued to grow.
Later on, she came to know a couple of friends who were avid quilters. They recommended she try it out, even for its therapeutic effects.
“One of them, in particular, took me under her wing, and there was a quilt shop not too far from where we lived,” she recalled. The pair joined a group there that met each month, and Blank’s passion for fibre art continued to take shape.
One day, her friend suggested they attend a special exhibition of specialized quilting and embroidered work.
“I walked into the room and looked around. I looked at her and said, I have to learn how to do this,” she said. Although she certainly had experience in these areas, it had never quite reached these incredibly unique displays of individual artists’ visions.
Blank started meeting with others in a Cochrane quilt shop and a whole new door was opened for her.
“Our work was shown, and it fascinated people.”
Sadly, it was also during this time that her husband passed away, and she would later relocate to Mirror in the fall of 2008.
“I took more classes online at this point,” she said. “And I just kept working on it.”
She started showing her work at the annual Lacombe art sale several years ago, and she also began to enjoy teaching others about the craft as well.
To date, her work has been shown nationally, and in early 2021, she was selected with other Alberta-based artists to participate in ‘Art from the Unknown’ — an online showcase of Alberta artists.
One of her most remarkable works was a three-dimensional installation titled Mark On the Body, which was created to show the harshness of living with Type 1 diabetes.
In the fall of 2016, this powerful and thought-provoking work was also exhibited in the upper gallery at the LMC.
Meanwhile, according to her bio, Blank describes textile art as her greatest joy.
“I love the look and feel of layers, rough-edged applique, free-form machine quilting, and/or hand-stitching,” she noted, adding it’s so meaningful to interpret the world around her via textiles, “Inspired by my rural Alberta hamlet, the rolling prairie and the wide Alberta sky.”
Her work is also in private collections in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, and has been featured at galleries in Sylvan Lake and Fort McMurray.
Currently, her work is on view and available for purchase at Gracie D’s Antiques, Collectibles, and Gifts in Mirror, and at Alix Public Library.
Meanwhile, the last rendition of the annual art sale was back in 2019, so artists from across the region – not to mention fans of the event – are more than ready to see it held again.
Presented by Vesta Energy, the sale features hand-crafted fiber arts, pottery, paintings, metal works, and plenty more from some of Alberta’s finest artisans.
There is no charge to attend, but donations are gratefully accepted.
Things kick off at 1 p.m. on April 14 and a talk/demo with Blank runs at 2 p.m.
That evening, from 6 to 8 p.m. is ‘Sip, Savour and Shop’ where visitors can enjoy tasty snacks and sips with a creative twist while shopping for the perfect piece to add to their collections.
Doors open at 11 a.m. on April 15 with another talk/demo with Blank set for 2 p.m.
‘Sip and Shop’ runs from 2 to 4 p.m. and the Student Arts Awards segment is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Things wrap up at 5 p.m.