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ARTICLE ARCHIVE

Jan/Feb 2003  

REVIEW

American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 4

Cecilia Blomberg, The Milkmaid, 2000; wool, linen; tapestry; 59 by 44 inches.

There are no small dreams woven into tapestry, either by artist or by organization.

The American Tapestry Alliance dreams that recognition for tapestry is a growing reality across the world. To share this vision, the organization has mounted its fourth biennial exhibition. The exhibition opened at the Richmond Art Gallery in Richmond, a Vancouver suburb, in July; traveled to Carlsbad, California, in the fall; and will be on view at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago March 2-29.

This engaging collection of work was chosen by an international jury: Christine Laffer of the United States, Peter Horn of Germany, and Marcel Marois of Canada. From a pool of 140 works, a selection of 26 tapestries was made, a collection that the jurors modeled as a work of art in itself. Their own three works add to the authority of the exhibit.

Canadian and U.S. artists were joined by seven Europeans - from Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, and Norway. Three Hungarian artists in the exhibition also contributed to the "KARPIT" collection, a major statement of contemporary tapestry from Budapest studios, in an adjoining Richmond gallery.

Within "Biennial 4," the viewer could expect a component of politics. I found two strong voices. Dominating the gallery center, just as a red circular sofa could magnetize a Victorian salon, was Jon Eric Riis's Babe in Arms, a three dimensional trio of five-foot beaded tapestry children holding revolvers [a

Inge Norgaard, Life Interrupted #9 (detail below), 2001; handspun wool on cotton warp, plastic moths; tapestry; 22 by 35 inches.

detail image was shown in FIBERARTS in Nov/Dec '01]. Inge Norgaard wove Life Interrupted #9, which, though it spoke to the personal with its theme of cancer damage done in darkness, could be interpreted in a larger political context. Transparent mothwings glimmer alongside larva-eaten tunnels in the dark, hand-spun wool. Blood red yarns catch frayed edges in a frenzy of frantic mending.

 

Landscape comes forward in never-ending variations. With birch trees as background, Cecilia Blomberg's family history in rural Sweden is woven as a double portrait in The Milkmaid, a figure who appeared to the artist in an old double-exposed photo. A wimpled woman, large and angellike, protectively stands over the smaller maid, who holds a cow with a rope. The meadow is filled with dappled light falling over a Scandinavian Arcadia. The "voice" of the work is consistent from top to bottom.

 

 

Ann Schumacher, A Day in a Page of Life, 2001; silk, rayon, linen, wool; tapestry; 45 by 30 inches.

Spirituality speaks out from the signs, symbols, and attitudes of a number of works. Ann Schumacher records a passage of time in A Day in a Page of Life, wherein a thin slit of sky is seen through a tear in an ancient wall. History and heroes, creation stories, measurement of space and silence, healing and the passage of time - in the exhibited tapestries, a multitude of issues could be seen as somber reflections of our time. And the tapestry process and product prove to be apt vehicles.

The American Tapestry Alliance reaches out across countries and oceans to encourage and support tapestry and tapestry artists, especially by organizing exhibits and finding the right venues - those gallery/playing fields in Canada or Carlsbad or Chicago - where art and audience can connect.

--Carolyn Price Dyer

A catalogue is available on CD-ROM; see Resources on page 78 for more information.

 

 

Additional images available only on FiberartsMagazine.com!

Jon Eric Riis, Babes in Arms (detail below), 2001; silk tapestry, beading on leather; 28 by 66 by 28 inches.
 
Olga T. Neuts, Focus Southwest; wool; tapestry; 45 by 55 inches.
 
Mary Lane, Annie's Green Dress, 1999; tapestry; 7.5 by 8 inches.

Carolyn Price Dyer, artist and writer, lives on Vashon Island and weaves tapestry in her Tacoma, Washington, studio. Her writing for FIBERARTS first appeared in 1977.

BEAUTY, HONOR, AND TRADITION: THE LEGACY OF PLAINS INDIAN SHIRTS
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Jan/Feb 2003

 

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