Thursday, January 24, 2013

The shape of tapestry and the ATB9

I did enjoy my time with the tapestries in Fort Wayne at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. The whole saga of walking into the gallery on Thursday afternoon and realizing immediately that the show was missing pieces was disappointing and telling people their work was not hung was rather miserable. But I still enjoyed spending a lot of time looking at the tapestries that were hung. And the good news is that the rest of the tapestries should be hung already. Please see two of my prior posts for details.
A Call to Action for Tapestry Artists
American Tapestry Biennial 9

Here are a few things I enjoyed about the show with some detailed photos. And of course I wish I could have seen the 16 pieces that were not hung. If anyone goes to see the show after they are up, post some photos!

Sunia, by Ruth Jones, was a piece I studied a lot. There is much that reminds me of classical tapestry here with the hachure, colors, subject matter and floral motifs. I stood close to it to study the technique and found it confusing up close, stepped back a few feet and of course it was wonderful. Perception changes with distance. This piece is lovely. It got the first place award from the juror, Lee Talbot.
Sunia, Ruth Jones; 32 x 51 inches, wool, silk, cotton

Sunia, detail
I love this piece, Return by Gunilla Petersson. I kept going back to it over and over again (okay, I went back to almost all of them several times). The textures and subtlety of the work is fascinating. She uses a lot of outlining and eccentric weft bits and there is a lot going on in the "background" that you can't see well in a photograph. This, along with Ulrikka Mokdad's piece are examples of tapestries with few colors used to great effect.
Return--Gunilla Petersson; 47 x 39 inches, wool, linen
Return, detail
Another piece I spent a lot of time looking at was In My, Maybe Your Neighborhood by Ulrikka Mokdad. I loved how there were a minimal number of colors and that she used various tapestry techniques to create shading and movement in the piece. I also liked the challenge of the subject matter. (My apologies for the photograph here. The piece is absolutely rectangular, but I didn't take enough care in where I was standing to represent this.)
In My, Maybe Your Neighbourhood, Ulrikka Mokdad; 62 x 42 inches, wool, linen
I just loved the sweeping lines in the face and hair.
In My, Maybe Your Neighbourhood, detail
This piece, Verdant by Susan Iverson was not one of my favorites in the catalog. When seeing it in person, I was blown away. It is gorgeous. I love the swooping shape with the glass form in each curve. I love the repetition of forms and colors throughout the piece, and I love how it challenges me to think about tapestry in a different form.
Verdant--Susan Iverson; 51 x 88 x 6 inches, wool, linen, glass.
Verdant, detail
Mary Zicafoose's weft ikat work is amazing. I love the image in this large piece. I have never done ikat and just making these complicated forms line up across three panels seems really difficult to me. The effect is beautiful. Look at the top picture on her website HERE to see a photo of the ikat wrapping technique.
Blueprint #7, Mary Zicafoose; 84 x 88 inches, linen warp, hand-dyed and woven wool weft-faced ikat tapestry
I took this photo as I marveled at how well the ikat works between the panels.
Blueprint #7, detail
One thing I have started looking at when going to tapestry shows is what epi different weavers use. There is a wide variety at this show, though all pieces seemed to be between 4 and 20 epi. Mary Zicafoose's work was on the lower end of the ends-per-inch (epi) range and Ulrikka Mokdad and Ruth Jones on the higher end.

***Disclaimer note: I have had issues in the past with tapestry artists objecting to me posting photos of their work on my blog. I want to say here that I do my best to represent each piece as well as possible. These photos are snapshots with a hand-held camera taken by necessity with no flash in a low-light gallery on blue walls. Photography is allowed of ATB shows and is stated so in the entry contract you signed. My purpose in posting these photos is educational. Not everyone can visit these shows, and I know that I learn a great deal from looking at details of other artists work. Please understand that is the spirit in which I post these photos. If you are an artist represented here and you object to my posting photos of your work, please contact me and I will remove the photos. All photos are here at extremely low resolutions. They are not print-able and cannot be blown up more than this in print without being extremely pixelated.


  1. Thank you Rebecca for helping me see the amazing fiber art in this post! I simply scanned down the page at first and thought all the art was yours, and it took my breath away that one person could make such a lovely variety. Knowing that other hands and hearts were involved still gives my spirits a lift today. Thanks! Georgianne Holland

  2. Trish at Tangled ThreadsJanuary 24, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Rebecca, thanks so much for doing this and for posting these wonderful photos. The detail shots help me understand how the artists achieve such fine work. I hope all the artists allow you to keep these up on your blog. Trish

  3. Hi Rebecca, I have enjoyed your reports on the show and the photos. Thank you for posting about it.

  4. I've learned so much from seeing this show through your eyes. Thanks so much for taking the time to post the photo's and using your narrative to direct my attention to points of interest.
    I hope to get down to Fort Wayne before the end of the show.

  5. Outstanding, Rebecca... thank you for sharing the experience of ATB 9. As you so correctly observed, not many actual tapestry weavers get to see these exhibits unless they coincide with an event they happen to be attending. And the last few ATBs were unable to be included in any event, so were not widely seen. We all buy the catalogs, of course, but seeing digital images of the works is even better, especially when the photographer can also comment in a knowledgeable way about techniques, colors, & materials!

    I am not sure why anyone would get in a snit at your posting of their work on your widely read blog... they should be extremely flattered. Not only does it increase their exposure to the world (for free, I might add), when you have also provided a link to whatever website or artist page they may have, it increases traffic there (for free, yet again). And in this case, your investigations led to the discovery of the omitted works. I hope you are receiving well deserved thanks from those artists who benefited from your curiosity!


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