Sunday, January 27, 2013

It is all Sarah's fault (and more ATB9)

I tend to like tapestries that use text in some way.  I mostly blame this on Sarah Swett and her slow literature tapestries because I was in love with them immediately--and I've only seen photos on her website. There were quite a few pieces in the American Tapestry Alliance's ATB9 at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art which used text or the idea of text in the work. So here I go with another set of photos from that show...

I look a lot at how people blend color in weft bundles. This piece by Lindsey Marshall has multiple colors in every weft bundle throughout the piece. You can see this in the detail below quite well. I love the abstracted typographic forms she uses.
When Fortune Flowers--Lindsey Marshall; 22.5 x 22.5 cotton, linen, metallic, acrylic

When Fortune Flowers, detail
Tara by Michael Rohde is one of my favorite pieces from the catalog. It did not disappoint me in person. The surface is alive and so rich. I think this likely has something to do with the natural dyes as well as a rougher wool than I use. The use of pick and pick to make the text-like figures is enchanting. I love how the colors grade throughout the piece.
Tara, Michael F. Rohde; 45 x 36.5 inches, wool, natural dyes

Tara, detail
Here is another text piece with both implied and actual text in it. Marzena Ziejka's Declaration of Independence is wonderful. Look carefully at the details. The text at the top ("Congress" in the detail) is woven right in and readable as such. The text farther down is mostly just suggested. But when you stand back and look at the whole piece, you are convinced that there is text throughout. Look at the second detail. It is done with soumack that is slanted consistently to look like cursive writing. The whole piece looks like a piece of parchment with color changes, cracks made by sewing with darker thread, and uneven-looking edges (they are actually very straight) done with darker edges in part, a difficult weaving trick!
Declaration of Independence, Marzena Ziejka; 50 x 43 inches, hand-spun, hand-dyed wool, linen
Declaration of Independence, detail
Declaration of Independence, detail
Anne Jackson's piece is also wonderful. Her color use bears some study and you can see some of it in the detail below. The symbols are beautifully done and, according to the catalog, are a mix of magical signs and diagrams from biochemical research.
The Witchcraft Series: Alchemists, Anne Jackson; 28 x 37 inches, cotton, linen, synthetics

The Witchcraft Series: Alchemists, detail
Anne Jackson's piece reminds me of a postcard. Tricia Goldberg's piece actually was inspired by a postcard.
Postcard for Angela, Tricia Goldberg; 60 x 39 x 1 inch, cotton, wool, silk
Postcard for Angela, detail
The last piece of this text-related group of tapestries I wanted to show you is Etude 3 by Joyce Hayes. I love the beautiful lines in these pieces Joyce does. The changes in value in the colors as well as the beautiful slanting lines do make me hear music. This piece is very small and the intimate viewing distance required adds to the enchantment.
Etude 3, Joyce Hayes; 8.5 x 9.5 inches, linen, cotton, poly sheen soumak
Etude 3, detail
These text pieces are interesting to me for many reasons. I think I like the regularity that text can create. I love the association with my favorite pastime, reading. I think about my father's type cases full of old type and his printing press running on a Saturday morning, the odor of printers ink filling the air of his shop. And I think about all the books I have yet to read in my life and what that really means to me. Text is beautiful. Especially when woven.


  1. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing more photos. When I viewed your video of the exhibit, I too, was amazed by how many entries contained text, or text-like, design. The use of soumack on the Declaration of Independence is very intriguing. Sarah's slow literature tapestries have always inspired me. We are so blessed to have a tapestry community that shares and inspires us all to move into new directions, don't you think?

  2. Thank you, Rebecca for your blog...
    Thanks to your post I spent more time looking at Sarah's slow literature tapestries (wish seen them in person of course!) and I can feel how much inspiring it is for me. Amazing works....
    Each of tapestries of ATB9 gave me so much pleasure, I was content that I could examine them close, because no photo can add all values of woven piece. Yes, I wish I could see ALL pieces in ATB9! I also had thoughts of touching them, checking how the back looks-alike to learn more about each weaver's technique, personal way of doing the craft. Can imagine 'sample' accompanying original piece that would allow such examination.

  3. I quite enjoyed this chance to see the show via your article. My dear friend Marzena Ziegka is in it. Thanks for your thoughtful reporting. I wish this show would come to Chicago as the work looks to be of very high quality. Maybe I can get out to see it during the run. Shows this good should travel to major cities but the next best thing is good coverage online. Keep up the good work Rebecca.
    Robert Kameczura, artist, / art critic Big Shoulders Magazine

  4. Hello Rebecca,

    Thank you for seeing the show, getting the rest of the show exhibited, your thoughts, words, sharing your wonderful tapestries, and contributing so much to the tapestry community!

    best, Tricia

  5. Marzena, I think the "sample" that you can touch idea is a great one! If I ever get another solo show I'm going to do that. Tapestry just bets to be touched. Bonnie, the tapestry community is indeed important! I love the new ATA-talk list-serv and hope tapestry artists utilize it. Robert, I had the pleasure of meeting Marzena in Fort Wayne. ATB10 will be in San Diego, but alas, not Chicago unless we can find another venue! (It WILL be in Ohio though which isn't the farthest place.)

  6. Letter and word forms are beautiful, aren't they? One of the unexpected things that happened while weaving the Rough Copy tapestries, (bottom to top, and letter by letter), was coming upon bits of unexpected alliteration that I never noticed while writing/ revising the text for the cartoon. "Gosh, I sure have been weaving a lot of 'g's recently," I'd think. And suddenly I'd see this dance of the letter g through a whole section of text. The same thing happened with double letters -- one paragraph awash in words with 'oo' and 'ee' and 'tt' and 'ss' etc, right next to others with virtually none. These same patterns emerged in the tapestries too, each of the 13 having its own 'favorite' letter.
    I noticed all of this while I was weaving, and it was one of the myriad things that kept me interested over the years. Now that it is done, however, I don't see the patterns any more; I read each tapestry as it was written. It was one of those magic weaving times for which you just had to be there.
    I do hope I can take some of the blame/credit for a letter or two or two thousand appearing in your amazing tapestries, Rebecca. And what heaven to share that blame with the stunning artists and works above.



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