Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tapestry weaving and the nature of an art form

I picked up Joan Potter Loveless's book, Three Weavers again this morning (of all things, I had to buy another copy of it because mine is buried in a storage locker, but I needed this particular book and bookfinder.com almost always pulls through). I had forgotten that she studied with Anni Albers at Black Mountain College (and took color classes with Josef Albers).  Perhaps this book should have been on the Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus reading list.

Here is a quote from page 17 that got me thinking of other aspects of tapestry weaving and more questions about why contemporary tapestry is most often not considered an art form by the larger art world (though historical and traditional tapestry often are--why is this?).

Even though, in one sense, the "evolution" of handweaving can be seen as a progression toward more ease, more efficiency, with the development of equipment and tools that accomplish these things, this is not a true picture of what weaving is all about. Weaving in the present is also, and most importantly, all of the minute, separate, weaving occurrences that have gone on in the past, all of the particular, individual, bits and pieces that have been woven in the the past by people sitting at looms or simply twining fibers into some form.  The satisfaction that we derive from being involved in a piece of weaving is exactly the same satisfaction that weavers always have derived from their work. Our work is no better; often it is not nearly as good. Weaving is not involved with the concept of progress; it is much more concerned with holding still the moment, with savoring and with marking it, with this still very simple participation with the fibers that we find around us.

Is this a common perspective among tapestry weavers? (and keep in mind that this book was published in 1992). I feel that meditative aspect of weaving almost every time I sit at the loom and I believe other weavers do also. Is there a fundamental rift between the glittery, monied art world and the slower universe of the tapestry weaver that we just can't overcome? Probably this is just one very small part of the problem of tapestry's place in the larger art world. After all, I imagine all artists have to find that meditative place when they are creating and thus experience this glaring difference of realities when faced with marketing and showing their work. But are tapestry weavers particularly inhibited by the slow plodding nature of our work when it comes to marketing and professional issues?




(photos Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, November 12, 2011)

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this post, Rebecca. I weave and write novels and have thought about these issues from time to time. Because both art forms take years, often, to complete a project, I find that spontaneous travel helps satisfy a need to engage in something with more immediate results.

    Weave on!

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  2. Thanks for the heads up on Joan Potter Loveless book Three Weavers. I just received and am beginning to read it. When thumbing through I happen to focus on page 198 and 199. Her comments vocalize(?) so much of the way I feel about my"ART".

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