Monday, December 17, 2012

Double Trouble

I have good intentions to blog but I guess you can tell I would rather be making art! Some of you have asked for more details of this new tapestry so I have tried to make this more available to you here.

                                 'Terra: Wheat and Grass'

This is my new diptych, 'Terra: Wheat and Grass.'  They are about 35" (90cm) in height.  I am  intrigued by the eccentric wefts I have been working with and have recently completed a diptych that incorporates large areas where the eccentric weft areas can shift and overlap the adjacent sections.  

                                        'Grass' details

                                        'Wheat' at an angle

Here are some details where you can see the overlaps and gaps. They provide unusual surface interest which is an aspect of tapestry that has not been really exploited as far as the construction goes. To me, tapestry is a construction project. Beyond the 2D imagery of the tapestry, I feel there needs to be an aspect that shows it is not a painting or a photograph. It must be true to its textile roots. With this way of working the viewer can see the process but there is more to it than meets the eye. By letting the surface move, shift, bulge, it begins to behave more like a piece of textile which, in fact, it is.

In this example I weave each tapestry as one integrated unit; there is no sewing or piecing to create this overlap but rather the full effect takes place after it is cut from the loom. Without the tension to pull it straight, it buckles into these wonderful layers.

I have added the top and bottom areas for framing this special effect and for contrast. In addition it anchors the wayward shifting area so it does not lose its context. 

I like the look of these sort of jigsaw pieces which I wove without a cartoon. I knew the colors and the sorts of shapes i wanted to use but it was hard to not fall into a regular patterned design. (The only negative for this slit process is that there are a lot more selvages to manage; the loose ends at the back need to be sewn back in.) Overall, I am very excited about these. There are a lot of directions I can take to explore in this technique.

 I am already thinking about and sketching the next pieces I want to do to further this 'textileness' effect.  Let me know what you think.

The Mark Adams symposium at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles held a symposium June 24, 2012 in conjunction with the current exhibit on the wonderful tapestries of Mark Adams. Mark was a prolific San Francisco based artist who made paintings, design stain glass windows and, for the focus of this blog, he designed many tapestries. He studied with Hans Hoffman in New York City and was later intrigued by tapestry and went to France to study with Jean Lurçat.

 The five speakers included Melissa Leventon, Jean Pierre La Rochette, Phoebe McAfee and Rudi Richardson, who with Phoebe wove many of his designs at the Bethany Methodist Church in San Francisco, and another student of Mark's, Constance Hunt who gave an engrossing account of making a series of ten cartoons in ten days. The exhibition includes over 40 tapestries spanning many years of his productive life.

In the early 1980's I had the pleasure of meeting him in his converted firehouse and going to see the nearby studio where Phoebe and Rudi were weaving. I was amazed how few colors of yarn were on hand. He knew exactly which colors were needed for each project. His cartoon was a large piece of Kraft paper (?) over which he had pasted his design changes.  In some areas there were many layers reflecting his design process.

I always like looking at his tapestries because of the use of color, clarity of design, and simple joy of life. They usually look so simple but that is an illusion. A lot of thought, sketching, and patience went into each one.  I find them very inspiring.  His use of color is stunning.

 Here are a few of my favorites from the show.

                                     White Petunia  1978

                               Lotus , Sumatra   1989

                               Cabbage Leaves   1976

There is now a new catalogue raisonné of his tapestries which is a treasure trove of illustrations published by Stanford University Libraries.