Local residents, Deste Arthurton and Mary Floyd, are "off the hook" - quite literally.
The two are participating in “Off the Hook” - an exhibition of approximately 200 handmade antique, modern and contemporary hook rugs - which explores the tradition of this traditional art form, as well as new directions for the craft.
It's the largest art exhibition ever presented by the state-of-the-art Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center and features 52 artists, including Arthurton and Floyd, through June 30.
Arthurton recently took the time to share a little about what the craft means to her.
When and how did you get into the art of rug hooking?
After what seemed like a lifetime of knitting, needlepoint and cross stitch, I decided to take up quilting. As I'm allergic to sewing machines, I flunked out of the quilt class. Around that time, I noticed hooked rugs showing up in books and magazines. In 1996 I found a teacher and have never looked back.
What inspires your work and what subjects do you explore?
I'm a primitive rug hooker - a very traditional one. While others are exploring the use of many different materials, I stick with the traditional wools and always will. My subjects are traditional too - those that reflect heart, home and country. As a transplant from New York to Georgia, rug hooking gave me the friends I hold most dear - and there's nothing like looking at what others are making to get your creative juices going.
What works by you are in the exhibition and what are they like?
They're wide cut primitive rugs - no narrow cut and shading and no very wide cut. My wool strips are around a quarter of an inch wide. I always say that with a primitive, what you see is what you get. I have [four] rugs in the show: a Lady Liberty; a cat with flying rag balls - in lieu of the stars on the pattern; a cat holding an American flag; and a Log Cabin/Coverlet pattern. All are commercial patterns, though I have designed some others. My favorite is the latter rug - a combination of geometric designs and flowers. It fairly glows and makes me smile when I see it - it's normal place in the house is tacked to a fireboard in front of the living room fireplace.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or the opportunity to show your work in the exhibit?
Rug hooking has always been my way of relaxing. My career in Human Resources for UPS brought me here and after spending 30 years with the company, I finally have all the time I want to spend on my rugs. Everyone likes to see their work on display - we're proud of what we do and we'd love to have others take up the art. Unfortunately, we're not blessed with many teachers in this area and there are limited groups who meet.