American Tapestry Alliance

The saga of the tapestry postcard

The saga of the tapestry postcard

The title of my postcard is Waypoints. I’m including photographs here because I don’t think they’re going to make it into the ATA show which is quite disappointing actually… but entirely my fault.

I started this piece forever ago. With the intention of actually finishing it of course. I was planning ahead, sure I’d get it finished and mailed before the end of the summer, determined not to be the last person in the show to mail their card. Partway in I had an idea I liked better for the theme but I was lucky to get this one done, so the new design will have to wait.

I determined, mostly from photographs I took likely with this very blogpost in mind, that my original intention was to finish this piece that is on my biggest copper pipe loom before starting the postcard for the ATA exchange. I do remember looking at this piece, thinking that I didn’t much want to cut it off but neither did I want to finish it (because I still can’t, after a couple years, decide how to do that), so instead I went to the garage and…

Small-format tapestries: Crossroads

Small-format tapestries: Crossroads

I just received my catalog for the American Tapestry Alliance small format juried show Small Tapestry International 5: Crossroads. What a lovely show. I am tempted to take a road trip when it is near Dallas.

This post includes some images from the catalog and a statement from the juror. She challenges us to think about tapestry's place in the world and directions we could take this art form. Do you agree with her?

Using tapestry techniques to blend color: irregular hatching

A painter can add a bit more red to her blue and make the purple she wants. A tapestry weaver has no such luxury. We either need to dye another color or use tapestry techniques to make the colors of our yarns blend optically.

One of the easiest color blending techniques is irregular hatching. Let's look at how we create this effect.


Most contemporary tapestry weavers use a method of weaving often called meet and separate, though I've had many students call it "meet and greet". This means that adjacent yarn butterflies or bobbins are moving toward or away from each other. It looks like this:
I find that this little graphic can be rather helpful for people to remember how this works.

Understanding meet and separate is essential to blending colors using irregular hatching. Let's talk more about meet and separate in a short video. (Remember that if you get my blog posts via email, you will have to go to my blog on the internet HERE or on YouTube to view this video.)




Once you understand how meet and separate works, it is a short jump to understanding irregular hatching.

Meet and separate can be used with butterflies of the same color. If two different colors are hatched together using the meet and separate technique, irregular hatching is the result.


Much of what I achieve with color gradation in my own work is done with irregular hatching. For example, in this piece, Emergence VII, all the darker shading in the teal band is done this way.
Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence VII, 45 x 45 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence VII detail
Using irregular hatching is a great way to change colors horizontally across your warp. In the section where the two colors are overlapping or hatching together, you'll create a third perceived color. Depending on the hues and values used, this can be very subtle or look like distinct stripes.


In the image above, examples 1 and 2 were done with simple two-color irregular hatching. Notice that the places the colors meet change with each sequence and are random. When you use more similar values as in examples 2 and 3, the blending is more subtle. In example 4, the colors were mixed even further and the points where individual colors meet is lost. This is the point at which you can start to create horizontal color shifts that are seamless.

Let's look at a how to weave irregular hatching in a video. (You can see this video larger on my YouTube channel HERE. Subscribe to my channel while you're there!)



Why would we want to use irregular hatching?

If you are trying to create effects with color blending, irregular hatching is an important tool. Certainly many tapestry weavers use sharp delineations between colors in a very graphic style. Others like to blend colors to achieve more subtle gradations and movement of color. Irregular hatching is the first of many tapestry techniques that allow this kind of expression in tapestry weaving.
  
Below is another example from my own work. Notice that the colors in the five rectangles moves from yellow to red. In each of the rectangles, there were three colors. I hatched those three colors together to make the color change horizontally. There were fifteen colors total in those five blocks, three in each one.

Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence III
If you are interested in learning more about the other ways to create color movement in tapestry, consider my online course, ColorGradation Techniques for Tapestry. If you are just beginning your journey in tapestry weaving, I recommend my beginning online course, Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry.

Information about the blog tour

The Blog Tour Line-Up
December 23rd: Vancouver Yarn
December 30th: Rebecca Mezoff
January 6th: Terry Olson
January 13th: Mirrix Looms
January 20th: Elizabeth Buckley
January 27th: Sarah Swett

This blog tour is in celebration of ATA's upcoming international, unjuried small format exhibition, Tapestry Unlimited, which hangs in Milwaukee next summer. We hope you'll consider participating!

The American Tapestry Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for tapestry weavers around the world, including exhibitions (like Tapestry Unlimited), both juried and unjuried, in museums, art centers and online, along with exhibition catalogues. They offer workshops, lectures, one-on-one mentoring and online educational articles as well as awards, including scholarships, membership grants, an international student award, and the Award of Excellence. They also put out a quarterly newsletter, monthly eNews & eKudos and CODA, an annual digest. Members benefit from personalized artists pages on the ATA website, online exhibitions, educational articles, access to scholarships and more.

There are PRIZES for participating in the blog tour. Unfortunately, American Tapestry Alliance members are not eligible to win, but if you are not yet a member, consider entering. All you have to do is complete one of the easy social media options in the Rafflecopter box below, one of which is leaving a comment on this blog post. During each of the six weeks of the tour, there are two prizes. One is a free ATA membership and the other is an ATA membership plus a free entry to the unjuried small format tapestry show (tapestries are not due until March, 2016). You can enter every week by following the instructions in the blog post. Many of the bloggers will be using Rafflecopter. Others will choose winners from those who commented on their post.

Some options can be done every day to increase the chances of winning one of the prizes. ATA is a fantastic source of information about tapestry weaving, so don't miss this chance for a free membership!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


And even if you don't want to enter to win, please leave a comment below and share this post with your friends and weaving buddies.




A visit to the minds of six different tapestry teachers...

American Tapestry Alliance's Tapestry Unlimited Blog Tour

The American Tapestry Alliance is trying something new thanks to Janna Marie Vallee of Vancouver Yarn. She is spearheading a blog tour which starts December 23rd.

Janna has put up a great information page on her website which includes a video.
You can see it all HERE.
If you want to, you can even sign up for the tour which gets you on the inside track for some great prizes and will give you directions to each stop. As I understand it, prizes include ATA memberships and free entry to ATA's 2016 Tapestry Unlimited show.

I am expecting some really fun posts. With a crew like this, what else would you expect?
Here are the leaders of your tour:

Janna Marie Valee: December 23rd
Rebecca Mezoff: December 30th
Terry Olson: January 6th
Claudia Chase: January 13th
Elizabeth Buckley: January 20th
Sarah Swett: January 27th

I kind of feel like we're doing one of those holiday home tours except I can peek into other weavers studios from my couch.



Mary Cost and Architectural Abstractions

I was able to swing by Mary Cost's new show at Downtown Subscription in Santa Fe, NM on the first day of its run, Tuesday the 5th.
I was sitting at a table, drinking an Izze soda (I had already had a chai tea latte that day at another coffee shop and couldn't go for a second round), and was delighted to watch a woman enthralled by the tapestries. She was holding her coffee (and frankly I was afraid she was going to spill it all over her shoes as she wasn't paying any attention to it), stumbling along between the tables and people looking up at the tapestries. People do find tapestry fascinating if we can just show it to them!
Morning, 55 x 33 inchesNote: This tapestry was hanging high on the wall thus the photograph makes it look narrower at the top. It is actually rectangular.
Mary also used to study with James Koehler. Her work has changed and grown significantly over just the last couple years. I think these recent architectural works are stunning and I hope she considers weaving something really large one of these days. I think it would be gorgeous.
Spring at last, 48.5 x 28.75 inches; Morning, 55 x 33 inches; Inside Looking Out, 38 x 27 inches
So Mary Cost is out there in Santa Fe making sure people see her tapestries. Lets go see them! Her work is beautiful and though the walls are not well-lit, the coffee shop is bright and you can see the work (if you can get by the people--the place was packed by the time I left!). She is represented by La Mesa of Santa Fe.
Mary recently had a piece in the international juried show of the American Tapestry Alliance, American Tapestry Biennial 9. I was able to see it at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and you can see my blog post and photos about her work HERE and in the video on THIS post.


Look for this postcard on the newspaper rack right as you come in the door. It has all the info on it.


Mary Cost
Architectural Abstractions
March 5 to March 31
Downtown Subscription
376 Garcia Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Reception: Friday March 8, 4-6pm

Photographing tapestry

I have my piece for the Small Tapestry International 3: Outside the Line show sitting on the counter in my kitchen. I know this seems odd (after all, I am risking a ketchup malfunction by leaving it there), but I need to remember to rephotograph it and my memory has been failing me on a regular basis the last few weeks. Really I'm just taking things moment by moment at this point. The original photo I took was on the right track, but somehow I didn't get the entire piece in focus.

Cherry Lake is hung inside a larger frame and several times a day I walk by, see it out of the corner of my eye, and think, "who left that television there and what a waste of electricity?!" and then remember that (1) we have a TV but no reception, so it isn't really possible that that could be the blue glow from a TV and (2) that Emily would never have left that tapestry sitting there for a week. Since she is visiting our new niece in a land far away, I am left to fend for myself and for now, the tapestry stays in the kitchen.

I am attempting to learn more about photographing my own work. As a kid I had a Pentax K1000 single lens reflex camera. I got it for my 14th birthday and I loved it. I used it right up until that moment in Seattle in 2004 when I bought my first digital camera. I still keep the Pentax in my closet right next to my softball shoes. You never know when one of those will come in handy after excavation from the layer of dust. I wonder if the shoes still fit.

A couple years ago I bought a Canon digital SLR and have been amazed at what great photos it can take considering the hands of the person operating it. I do understand shutter and aperture and ISO (which used to be ASA in the world of film cameras, didn't it?) and depth of field. But I am no professional.

So today my task is to get a better photo of Cherry Lake. I have left it too late to take it to my professional photographer, so I am screwing up my patience and setting up the light stands and hoping that I can get this one done well myself. Here is the old photo (which was cropped for submission). I'll let you look for the new photo, which I am sure I am going to nail, in the STI3 catalog.


June Wayne's tapestries in Santa Fe

I took a trip down to Santa Fe Saturday to hear a talk about the two solo shows at David Richard GalleryJune Wayne The Tapestries: Forces of Nature and Beyond and Judy Chicago: Woven and Stitched.

The primary speakers were Elissa Auther, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and Janet Koplos, a New York City-based art critic, writer and contributing editor for Art in America. David Eichholtz, the curator at David Richard Gallery, gave a great introduction of the artists and mediated the discussion. Judy Chicago herself was in the audience and gave a lot of feedback about her work.

I read Elissa Auther’s book (String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art) a little more than a year ago as part of an American Tapestry Alliance study forum I participated in about increasing the visibility of tapestry in contemporary fine art. I reviewed the parts of the book about Judy Chicago and Auther’s conclusion before going to the lecture. I very much expected to hear a talk connecting the ideas in the book about history of fiber art and its place in contemporary fine art to contemporary tapestry art. We were, after all, sitting in a gallery full of large contemporary tapestries. Unfortunately, there was almost no mention of tapestry at all from either Koplos or Auther in their talks.

I purchased the catalog from The Art Institute of Chicago’s show of June Wayne’s tapestries in 2010-2011. At this point June was still alive and she wrote a short essay for the catalog. June is best known for her lithography and New Mexicans might recognize the name Tamarind Lithography Workshop which is now housed at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. For four years from 1970 to 1974, June focused on creating 12 large-scale tapestries, 11 of which were realized. All are currently exhibited at David Richard Gallery.

Here is a quote from the beginning of June Wayne’s catalog essay entitled, “Sufficient Unto Each Day is the Myopia Thereof.”

In 1973 the International Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne, Switzerland, rejected one of my tapestries. Mildred Constantine, the curator of design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the chairman of the Lausanne jury, told my Paris dealer that Lame de Choc was “too old-fashioned to show alongside fiber art.” Over the years I have ruminated about the differences between fiber art and tapestry and have come to believe that they are conceptual opposites, although they share the rubric of textiles.
In the 1960s fiber art literally “jumped over the convent wall” into mainstream aesthetics, distinguishing itself from tapestry by the adoption of “fiber” as its key word, which it had a genuine (and practical) need to do. Semantically and factually, tapestry had become a misleading label for the new directions that were being taken in weaving by artists who paired themselves with painting, graphics, collage, assemblage, and all the other artistic subsets that gave the ‘60s its reputation for freedom of expression…. But my art had an agenda that did not fit the goals of fiber. I needed and wanted tapestry techniques whose methodology echoed both benday dots and computer grids, just as it offered me a type of image making through the accretion of modules that I had found in the pores of lithograph stones….

I found it more than a little ironic following this quote and given the fact that the talk was in a gallery stuffed with huge tapestries, that the lecturers did not show one slide of a tapestry, did not talk about June’s tapestries, and that the entire talk was centered around the fiber art of which June says her tapestries had nothing to do with.

Here are some quotes and highlights from the talk. There was a lot said about Judy Chicago’s work. I was excited to hear more about her history and work while looking at one of her tapestries (The Creation). I also appreciated hearing Judy speak a little bit about her career as an artist. (There is a lot of information out there about Judy Chicago and I will leave it to you to research her show.) I heard far less about June Wayne’s work.

Janet Koplos at the very end of her 20 minute talk and the only mention of tapestry by either speaker until the question period: 

Tapestry, the technique central to the two bodies of work that brought us here today, have somewhat more relation to drawing and painting and thus more easily accommodate specific statements of meaning. It seems that people trained in fiber often looked for ways to work beyond the expectations of that material while people trained in other mediums and techniques looked at fiber and saw the emotional, tactile, and associational values of fiber and use that toward ends that may be also present in their other work such as painting or printing. Interestingly the same thing seems to be happening in clay today…. and it is a reminder that there is never just one approach and even a single medium that can have many facets, it all depends on the ideas and the impulses of the artist.

At the end of the two talks, there was a period for questions. It was clear that the gallery had a large number of fans of Judy Chicago which was not unexpected since the creator of The Dinner Part (and many other famous works of art) was sitting among us, and she does live in New Mexico after all. We were an hour and a half into this experience and I had yet to hear anything substantial about tapestry from anyone except David Eichholtz, the gallery owner and curator who introduced June Wayne’s work at the beginning and the brief statement Koplos made at the end of her talk. So I stood up and asked Koplos and Auther what they thought the connection was between the issues of fiber art’s place in modern art to contemporary art tapestry production. The answer from Janet Koplos was that there isn’t anyone doing contemporary tapestry art any more. This was stunning to me. I sat down with my head spinning… and then all the things the ATA forum I participated in last year rushed back to me and all I could think was that these are the current scholars and curators of fiber art and even they don’t know what we do. Or rather, they know what we do, but they don’t think anyone of consequence does it any more. Here is the exact conversation.

Rebecca:

I am just wondering if you have any comments about contemporary tapestry in relation to the development of fiber art and its place in the art world today.

Koplos:

I think in the art world today there is a place for absolutely anything anybody wants to do. I don’t think there is any limit on it. But the real movement in tapestry, the attention to tapestry, came with the Lausanne Bienniale in the 60s and lots of artists were paying attention to it then but not to the degree that these two women were. You know, they were just somebody who did a cartoon and handed it over to somebody and it was executed by another person, so it was a superficial engagement. But there was engagement with the thing. And now… [she trails off and Auther picks up]

Auther:

The only way I can answer that is I went to the recent College Art Association meeting in New York which is the big interdisciplinary conference that artists and art historians come to. I noticed there was a panel on tapestry and I thought that was really fascinating, but as I looked at the individual papers as the conference came closer, it was really really stuck in 17th and 18th century. And I still feel like scholarship is … there is not the scholarly interest in contemporary tapestry that there should be.

David Eichholtz talked some about the use of digital weaving done by people like Chuck Close and Robert Indiana and questioned the differences between this kind of weaving and the one-of-a-kind hand weaving that created June Wayne’s tapestries. And then Eichholtz mentioned a digital weaving studio in Belgium.

Audience member:

A very well known artist in California these days is a woman named Pae White who does the thing with Brussel’s tapestries and she creates immense installations with Brussel tapestries.  [...]

Auther:

I am glad you brought up Pae White because it just occurred to me that yeah, she is probably the only contemporary artist I know that is doing large scale tapestry where she initiates the process and she is showing in museums that are exclusively devoted to contemporary art. I saw a series of her works in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and also I saw a series at SITE [Santa Fe], that must have been two years ago I think? 

Audience member:

They are knock-outs.

Auther:

They are huge and they are really interesting and I have never had a chance to talk to her about the motivations or why she is going into that realm but before that time she worked generally I think with a great interest in fiber and craft traditions.

Unfortunately, Christa Thurman, Chair of Textiles at The Art Institute of Chicago was not able to make it to the lecture as originally planned due to a personal emergency. I would have loved to hear what she had to say. David Richard Gallery has some interviews planned with her and promises to post a series of podcasts and videos with all this information including the talk I heard online. I look forward to Christa’s response to my question.

David Richard Gallery did an excellent job getting these speakers and I appreciated the well-attended event. The owners of the gallery were engaging, knowledgeable, and seemed exceptionally supportive of tapestry. I want to thank them for hosting this beautiful show and I hope they will consider showing contemporary art tapestry again in the near future.

Please visit David Richard Gallery's website and look at the June Wayne tapestries. Or better yet, if you can, go see the show. The tapestries are very large and several of them were stunning. They were woven by three different French studios in the early '70s. My favorite two are The Fifth Wave and VerdictThe Fifth Wave (Cinquieme Vague) was inspired by one of her lithographs, Wave Five. The background consists of irregular blocks that look like they are full of a design from tree rings. I love the color gradation use in this piece.

Verdict is 73 by 117 inches and was woven by Giselle Glaudin-Brivet at Atelier Giselle Glaudin-Brivet, Aubusson. The imagery in this piece is also based on Wayne's lithographs and contains references to DNA molecules and mountains. She uses two different warp setts in this piece, adding spots of color through much of it with a double sett.

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For more information:

(1) Here is a video of Elissa Auther speaking about her book, String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art.

(2) Here is a link to a series of photos of Pae White's Untitled, Still from the Whitney Biennial in 2010, a massive "tapestry". I am unable to find much information about her fiber works online but can only assume that these large pieces are digitally produced, possibly in Belgium as people in the talk suggested. This work is what Elissa Auther thought of when talking of contemporary tapestry.

Pae White, Untitled, Still; Whitney Biennial 2010

(3) More information about Judy Chicago at Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/artist/judy-chicago

(4) David Richard Gallery has a series of videos posted on their website. They have a few of June Wayne talking about her work. Here is one of them:

Cinquieme Vague, June Wayne, 86 x 78 inches, Tapestry, 1972