Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The James Koehler videos from the Denver Art Museum, Part 4: Teacher

This post is a continuation of the series of blog posts about the Denver Art Museum's videos of James Koehler.

Barb starts this video talking about passing on the knowledge of tapestry. I agree with her about this. Though weaving tapestry is a rather crazy way to spend a life in some respects, the rewards are great and passing on those things to a new generation of weavers is important. It is why I do so much teaching now myself.

In the video I talk about seeing a piece of James' at a lecture and knowing that that was what I wanted to do. That is quite literally what happened. I was a student at Northern New Mexico Community College in their fiber arts program and James came to give a lecture one afternoon. At NNMCC I was studying traditional Rio Grande Hispanic tapestry weaving which is a wonderful tradition with many expectations and rules. Once I understood the possibilities of contemporary art tapestry, I knew I had to leave that program and learn the techniques necessary to create my own vision of tapestry art.

It is true that the inspiration for James' Harmonic Oscillations pieces was a sine wave. Once he started playing with this mathematical form, he was able to create tapestries with these waves that looked like they were three dimensional.

If you receive my blog via email updates, you'll need to view it in your browser to see the video. Just go to http://rebeccamezoff.blogspot.com.

Here is one of the Harmonic Oscillations pieces which were designed from sine waves.
James Koehler, Harmonic Oscillation XL
James did love teaching. There are crazy stories from students about workshops he was teaching while he was sick in his last year when he just kept teaching. I struggled for a long time with feeling angry at him for not taking care of himself. For not stopping when he knew he was sick. But he couldn't. He was teaching in southern New Mexico just a day before he died.

The Rhythms of Nature pieces were ones he did very near the end of his life. I believe this one was woven around 2010 as it was included in the Albuquerque Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus show.
James Koehler, Rhythms of Nature III

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