It's a shrinking world, where less is more and tiny looms large, at least among fiber artists. Twenty-six works by seven contemporary Americans line the Renwick's first- floor hallways, proving that wall-size tapestries are out; knotted, knitted, crocheted, quilted and appliqued miniatures are in.
The largest piece in the show, Thomasin Grim's 11/2-by-2-foot "Tatoo," is the only work done on a loom. Its intricacies of line and texture are a prescription for math anxiety. Diane Itter, best-known of the artists here, lets linen strands hang out of her patterns to become a soft alternative to the hard geometry.
Anne McKenzie Nickolson embroiders over airbrushed cotton rickrack to come up with high-energy zig-zag designs. Dana Romalo Andrews achieves a painterly look through a thick webbing of running stitches. Elizabeth Tuttle is hooked on stairways. From a distance, her crocheted cotton threads achieve depth and subtle gradations of color. "The subjects of my recent pieces are common architectural details," she said. "The compositions are derived from my photographs of various public places, such as fire escapes and parking-ramp stairwells."
"Threads: Seven American Artists and Their Miniature Textile Pictures" will make amateur crocheters want to throw in their needles. But some textile fans will be cheered to know they don't need heavy machinery to create a work of art.