Pellissippi State students benefit from international fiber artist’s visit during film fest

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Fiber artist Lori Zimmerman brings something extra to this year’s Southern Appalachian International Film Festival at Pellissippi State Community College.

Pellissippi State students get an audience with an emerging artist who understands the fiber art world, and SOAPIFF organizers gain a speaker who moves the discussion of art beyond the world of filmmaking.

SOAPIFF is scheduled for Nov. 12-17 at the college, with all campuses hosting screenings.

Following an exhibition of her work at the World of Threads Festival in Ontario, Zimmerman travels to Knoxville for a session with Pellissippi State students.

“What I’ve prepared is a presentation that looks at the definition of what fiber art is and explores major trends in the art world—the fiber art world,” she said. “So I’m hoping to create a visual feast for people, and then the discussion can go wherever the discussion wants to go.”

Zimmerman’s overview encompasses process, technique, the definition of art itself and what actually constitutes a fiber.

“I’ve been looking a lot at fiber art trends all over the world and noticing that the one adjective you could use is the ‘explosion’ of exploration and of pushing of boundaries,” said Zimmerman, who is working on an article for Fiber Art Now magazine about the topic.

Her work incorporates fabric painting, photography, freestyle hand embroidery and collage. Zimmerman’s studio in the Los Angeles area also serves as a laboratory when she experiments with preserving natural specimens, such as leaves and seed pods.

“My work is an exploration of the effects of time on materials and the beauty inherent in aging,” she said. “Like a conversation that explores a specific topic, I open a dialogue through the use of materials, colors and images, conversing with what is on the fabric. As in any conversation, I stumble upon tense moments, confusion, delight, surprises and even moments of brief enlightenment.”

Zimmerman has been at work on her craft since the 1980s, when she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts and Crafts. She says she was determined to prove she could make a living as an artist, accomplishing that after graduation with work in several commercial venues.

One job at an interior design studio prompted Zimmerman to learn more about business. She earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California and worked in nonprofit management before deciding to return to the creative impulse that drove her to become an artist.

Zimmerman’s visit is sponsored by SOAPIFF, the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies and Pellissippi State’s Art and Media Technologies programs.

View Zimmerman’s art and blog at See the schedule of films for SOAPIFF at

Learn more about Pellissippi State by visiting or calling (865) 694-6400.