Fiber artist Deborah Langsam, a Dilworth resident, likes working with colorful fabrics to create contemporary quilted wall hangings and wearable fiber art such as scarves.Langsam, 62, followed an unconventional path to art. She has a doctorate in botany from Duke University and is retired from a career as a biology teacher at UNC Charlotte.Her scientific specialty is mycology – the study of fungi.“You know, what really attracted me to science was what I saw through the microscope, so it was the visual that always attracted me,” said Langsam, who was interested in the textures and structures of what she saw.Part of what she enjoyed about science, Langsam said, was the storytelling. She tried to weave information about microscopic organisms into an interesting narrative for students.“I went into science because, I think, I saw it as creative,” she said.In a similar way, Langsam now tells stories through art, something she has been doing for about 10 years – since she started a quilt she never completed.“In fact, I’m not even sure I finished one square of it,” she said.The basics of quilt-making stayed with her, however.Langsam said she considers her art a mix of hobby and second career, because profits from her Barking Dog Fiber Art go to several charities: SupportWorks, Friendship Trays and N.C. MedAssist.SupportWorks was founded by Langsam’s husband, Joal Fischer, a retired developmental pediatrician. The nonprofit organization helps find or form support groups and researches medical information.Langsam and Fischer also operate a chocolate business, Barking Dog Chocolatiers, creating gourmet chocolate in their kitchen. Profits from the chocolates go to charity as well.Two main influences are present in Langsam’s fiber art: One is what she called the “energy of urban life.” The other is Judaic themes, particularly those centered on healing the world.Langsam is active in local, regional and national quilting and fiber art organizations. One local organization she’s involved with is Fiber Art Options, a group of Charlotte fiber artists.Langsam’s fiber art has been shown in galleries throughout North Carolina and in Auburn, N.Y., at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center.Langsam’s quilts have won several first-place finishes at Charlotte Quilters’ Guild shows.Her work also has been commissioned by private collectors nationwide.One commissioned piece she made was an interpretation in fabric of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting. The family who bought the piece added pictures and written material to the work, including song lyrics and meaningful phrases.Some of Langsam’s quilted wall hangings are photo mosaics that use photograph images transferred to fabric. An example is “Under the Watchful Eye of Queen Charlotte,” featuring familiar Charlotte people, places and events.To create her scarves, Langsam orders material from a Japanese company that gives her ribbon and fiber scarves a lacy effect. She also makes knitted scarves.Sometimes, making the scarves is a “vacation” from the bigger pieces like wall hangings, Langsam said.
Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013
Dilworth fiber art designs help charities
Fiber artist Deborah Langsam of Dilworth holds a contemporary quilted wall hanging she created, titled “Out of the Mouths of Babes: Grape Lips.” HOPE YANCEY
Learn more: Visit Barking Dog Fiber Art at www.barkingdogfiberart.org. Ribbon and fiber scarves are $68. Knitted scarves are $30-$120. Quilted wall hangings are $175-$1,200 depending on size design.
Hope Yancey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Hope? Email her at email@example.com.
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