Piper Shepard (Baltimore, MD) holds a BFA in Fiber from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and an MFA in Fiber from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Her work has been shown at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI; the Delaware Art Museum; the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the Textile Art Centre, Chicago, IL; the David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; the Helen Drutt Gallery and the Snyderman-Works Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; and the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery in Birmingham, England. Publications include Fiber Arts Magazine, Surface Design Journal, and American Craft Magazine. Telos Press has published a monograph on her work. She has received four Individual Artists Awards from The Maryland State Arts Council in Crafts. She is a 2016 Japan-US Friendship Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Arts Exchange Program recipient. She is a 2016 United States Artists Distinguished Fellow in Crafts. Her work is in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Since 1994, she has taught in the Fiber Department at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art).
For over a decade I have been cutting cloth into lace-like filigree patterns. Sometimes the textiles are very regimented in their structure, other times, unstructured and cut like a free hand drawing. I looked avidly at historic cloth because the methodology of cutting lends itself to a reacquaintance with textile objects such as lace or the repeat patterns in historic wallpaper due to their mastery and complexity. Objects in our textile historical record serve as model and guide for me. As well, writing such as Anni Albers, The Pliable Plane: Textiles in Architecture, has been influential for its expansive approach to defining the function of cloth in space.
There are two interests I have been pursuing in my work. I am investigating the physical tolerance and qualities of cloth, considering cloth as a skin or membrane; understanding our knowledge of it as fugitive, with its abilities to sustain, absorb, hold history and memory. As well, I’ve been making large-scale textiles that reference architectural elements that act as screens, curtain walls and veils. I consider how cloth has functioned at an architectural capacity as division, protection, and ornament.
By cutting whole cloth into lace-like, arterial structures, I hope to elicit qualities of a most ephemeral nature. The work is pushed toward its most fragile limits. A tenuous relationship with material and its physical qualities are amplified.