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A lifetime of making art

October 8, 2011
By Kelly Fosness ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - For as long as Roberta Lambert can remember, her sister Carol has always loved yarn.

"We'd give it to her for her birthday. We'd give it to her for Christmas," she said. "She didn't care about getting anything else except for yarn, needles and stuff like that."

Carol Lambert's love for yarn is eminent in the display of knitted shapes she calls "hotdogs" which are part of Finlandia University Gallery's exhibit Explorations: The Flexible Linear Element. Carol Lambert's work is joined by that of fiber artist Tracy Krumm.

Article Photos

Daily Mining Gazette/Kelly Fosness
Daily Mining Gazette/Kelly Fosness
Carrie Flaspohler, director of Finlandia University Gallery, situates a piece of artwork featured in the exhibit Explorations: The Flexible Linear Element.

"When Tracy found out about how she made these she was just shocked about the amount of labor that went into these," Gallery Director Carrie Flaspohler said. "They've ended up really beautiful objects in themselves."

Flaspohler said Carol Lambert has been making hotdogs for more than 50 years. Inspired by the binding technique for a package of closeline at the store, Carol Lambert starts with materials such as yarn, old sweaters or blankets, which she unravels to use the string.

"She has a little hand-held spool knitter, takes that recycled string and makes a rope," Flaspohler said.

The hotdogs, displayed on the wall as visitors enter the gallery in the Finnish-American Heritage Center in Hancock, are colorful and consist of a variety of textures and materials Carol Lambert has collected over the years.

Flaspohler said she contacted Krumm two years ago, informing her that she had Carol Lambert's material, which she mailed to her studio in Kansas City, Mo.

The hotdogs, she said, were at one time, given to rag rug weavers to make rugs. When the woman Carol Lambert worked with passed away, she wanted someone else to find use in her material.

"(Tracy) said she wanted to honor Carol's life work so she didn't change or cut anything when she was in this process," Flaspohler said, while pointing to one of Krumm's pieces. "She kept the integrity of the material and she made this sculpture."

The piece, shaped like two colorful triangles, displays color flow of the materials Carol Lambert had used. In some places, there's a small piece of a material.

"Tracy said you could see the Christmas sweater in there that came through," Flaspohler said while pointing to a patch of red, white and green.

Along with Krumm's pieces in which she incorporated materials from unraveled hotdogs, was a display of her own. Krumm, who teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute, features metal artwork of all shapes and sizes.

"She's a fiber artist but she's using non-traditional materials," Flaspohler said. "She used metal to crochet."

The interesting thing, Flaspohler said, is the similarity between Carol Lambert's and Krumm's working process, which is labor-intensive.

During an opening reception for the exhibit, which is where Krumm met Carol Lambert for the first time, a video depicting both artists' working process.

In fact, Krumm created her version of a hotdog, which is also on display in the gallery.

Flaspohler said Finlandia University students in the International School of Art and Design had the opportunity to work closely with Krumm, during her one-week artist in residence stint. Krumm had students help her install her exhibit, and taught a session on hand weaving.

"That's one of the reasons we have this gallery and have artists come to campus," she said. "Being so far away from places that show art, we bring artists here to work with students so they can really learn what it's like to be a professional artist."

Flaspohler added that this particular exhibit was one of her most rewarding.

"I thought there was a story to tell that was about the similarity of the artistic process and life experiences," she said. "The students were so interested in (Carol), her life story and how she made these miles and miles of rope."

Roberta Lambert, of Baraga, who attended the opening reception with her Carol Sept. 22, said she was proud to see her sister's lifelong work recognized.

"After all these years and someone's interested - I thought this was really nice," she said.

Explorations: The Flexible Linear Element will be featured through Oct. 22.



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