Friday, January 30, 2015

The fiber art of Kristin Carlsen Rowley at The Contemporary Tapestry Gallery

If you haven't had a chance to stop by LaDonna Mayer's new tapestry gallery in Santa Fe, NM, I recommend you do so in the month of February. It is called The Contemporary Tapestry Gallery and you can find her website HERE. She has already had a list of interesting shows and the one that opens this weekend promises something unique. She is showing the work of Kristin Carlsen Rowley, a Santa Fe artist who works in tapestry technique three dimensionally.

Here are some images of the work. A press release from the gallery follows.
Kristin Carlsen Rowley, Tower
Kristin Carlsen Rowley, Tower, back
Kristin Carlsen Rowley, Palace

Kristin Carlsen Rowley, Fallen Dreams

The Contemporary Tapestry Gallery's Art News
When Kristin Carlsen Rowley removes a flat tapestry from her loom, her work has only begun. She then folds, twists, or sews the tapestry into intricate forms that cannot hang on walls but are displayed on shelves, mantels, in niches -- anywhere a small sculpture would fit. She calls the delicate work, "Woven Buildings" because most take the form of one kind of building or another -- intricately shaped and colored homes, towers, theaters, many with historic or foreign influences, adorned with windows, parapets,and staircases. Two even feature -- humorously or dramatically -- smashed outer walls that reveal toilets inside. 

The fact that almost all of the pieces, which are about 12 inches high, emerged from flat tapestries is a result of ingenuity and artistry that makes them not just unusual, but unique.

"I've never seen anything like this anywhere!" So said LaDonna Mayer, another tapestry artist, upon first seeing Rowley's work last fall. Mayer, who runs The Contemporary Tapestry Gallery in Santa Fe, quickly offered Rowley a one-person show of her work which has never been displayed in a gallery before.

Rowley's initial show, called Tapestry, Off the Wall, opens with a reception for the artist from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, February 1. It will run through February 21 at The Contemporary Tapestry Gallery, 825 W San Mateo Rd, 505-231-5904.

Rowley has an extensive background in art. A native of Iowa City, IA, she taught fiber arts at schools and universities across the United States as well as in Spain and Columbia. In Columbia she created her first woven buildings before moving to Santa Fe in 1997.

Why buildings? Because they seem to occupy a special place in her psyche. Long ago in Iowa, she and her brother Peter built dollhouses and sold them to such upscale stores as Neiman Marcus and Marshall Fields. Peter went on to become an architect. Kristin, when she is not creating original little houses in her studio, sells larger ones for Santa Fe Properties.

From Rebecca again:
I am curious what other tapestry artists and readers of my blog think about this work. I find it fascinating and hope to see it in person one day. The fact that she creates the buildings in a flat form and then uses wire and sewing to create the three dimensional finished work is fascinating. If you are able to go see the show, let me know what you think of the work in person. I wish I was in Santa Fe next month to see it myself. Don't worry, you can get home in time to watch the Super Bowl ads. Leave your thoughts below in the comments.


  1. Trish at Tangled ThreadsJanuary 31, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    These are VERY interesting. I would love to see them in person. The one titled Tower is a bit dark for me to see much detail and the other two are so detailed, I would like to be able to see the details in that one too. Do you know, anyone, what she uses for warp and for weft? I am so glad she has a chance to have a show.

    1. She uses a fine linen warp with DMC embroidery floss for weft.

    2. Thanks LaDonna! I was just going to ask you.

  2. This kind of work speaks volumes to my heart! I am glad that she is getting such recognition for this type of work. I also love weaving flat tapestry and then manipulating the warp threads to bring new shape and life to the cloth. Thank you, Rebecca for sharing this. I only wish I were closer to see this exhibit, but western NY is just a wee bit too far away.

  3. I think getting tapestry off the wall is great, this is very interesting work and brings tapestry bang up to date, I would like to experiment more with my work into this domain.


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