Over the many years I have been tapestry weaving, I have often been surprised by those people that tell me they too used to weave tapestry. People I hadn't expected in the fibre art circles I mingle with. Fibre artists who I greatly admire and who have journeyed far from the rigid structures that define the traditional tapestry technique. Recently I had the great privilege of visiting the highly esteemed fibre artist, Susan Warner Keene, at her Toronto Studio in Parkdale. I was taken aback when Susan showed me her own tapestry weaving forays from many years ago and I just loved it. She also showed me this book (above) on Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor, and I it completely enchanted me. She told me that Kai Chan, another one of my favorite fibre artists who has an exhibition at the David Kaye gallery opening this Saturday, studied with Sheila Hicks in Paris in the 1960s.
What I love about this book is its lack of pretense, simplicity and authenticity. The pages of the book themselves have an artisinal quality, and the front of the book is pristine with an embossed white on white grid like structure, referencing weaving. Freedom of constraints and expectations emanates in each work. One never gets the sense that she was ever concerned with what anyone else thought about her creations nor that she was trying to impress anyone.
Each work is a for me a meditation and captures the now, the moment she occupied at the time. They are imbued with a sense of humility in that they make evident that they are very much handmade and does not try to achieve technical excellence, exploring instead new possibilities and new ways of thinking about textiles and tapestry. I find it refreshing even after 50 years since she has created many of these pieces. It is a documentation of the pursuit of a creative path. What is ground breaking is that she is one of the first people to take fibre art in this direction, to not be concerned with textile as practical and useful, to see the beauty in the textiles and fibres themselves and to use them as a painter uses paint and brushes, and a sculptor their respective tools, that is to say, to see textiles as implements of making art. There are also a number of essays written by other people which are very interesting but more academic. From one of these essays I learned how much Plato esteemed weavers which I have mentioned at other times.
Professor/ Studio Head, Textiles Department
Crafts and Design
Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design
Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
(905) 845-9430 X:2379
Left to right: Joe Lewis, Rachel Miller, Melanie Siegel, Line Dufour, Rikki Blitt.
A few weeks ago I was on a jury to look at submissions for the Edge of the Forest exhibition, organized by the Surface Design Association (Canada). The main organizers were Melanie Siegel, Michelle Zikowitz and Rikki Blitt. The three jurors were Joe Lewis, Rachel Miller and myself. Rachel is a professor and studio head of the the textiles department at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.In Septmeber she went to see the Fate, Destiny and Self Determination exhibition at Craft Ontario and wove the shape above.
EXHIBITIONSThe Art is the Cloth
1690 Newtown Langhorne Road
Newtown, PA 18940
December 4, 2014 to February 9, 2015
Monday—Thursday, 9:00 a.m. —6:30 p.m.
Friday, 9:00 a.m. —4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 1:00—5:00 p.m.
Gallery Talk and Artist Reception:
Thursday, December 4, 3:00—5:00 p.m.
Gallery talk begins at 3:00 p.m. and will be immediately followed by the artist reception.
American Tapestry Biennial 11
Call for Entry
|ATB10: Don Burns, "Autumn" 67" x 38," wool, linen, silk, cotton. Photo: Don Burns|