Anni Albers

Tapestry weaving and the nature of an art form

I picked up Joan Potter Loveless's book, Three Weavers again this morning (of all things, I had to buy another copy of it because mine is buried in a storage locker, but I needed this particular book and almost always pulls through). I had forgotten that she studied with Anni Albers at Black Mountain College (and took color classes with Josef Albers).  Perhaps this book should have been on the Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus reading list.

Here is a quote from page 17 that got me thinking of other aspects of tapestry weaving and more questions about why contemporary tapestry is most often not considered an art form by the larger art world (though historical and traditional tapestry often are--why is this?).

Even though, in one sense, the "evolution" of handweaving can be seen as a progression toward more ease, more efficiency, with the development of equipment and tools that accomplish these things, this is not a true picture of what weaving is all about. Weaving in the present is also, and most importantly, all of the minute, separate, weaving occurrences that have gone on in the past, all of the particular, individual, bits and pieces that have been woven in the the past by people sitting at looms or simply twining fibers into some form.  The satisfaction that we derive from being involved in a piece of weaving is exactly the same satisfaction that weavers always have derived from their work. Our work is no better; often it is not nearly as good. Weaving is not involved with the concept of progress; it is much more concerned with holding still the moment, with savoring and with marking it, with this still very simple participation with the fibers that we find around us.

Is this a common perspective among tapestry weavers? (and keep in mind that this book was published in 1992). I feel that meditative aspect of weaving almost every time I sit at the loom and I believe other weavers do also. Is there a fundamental rift between the glittery, monied art world and the slower universe of the tapestry weaver that we just can't overcome? Probably this is just one very small part of the problem of tapestry's place in the larger art world. After all, I imagine all artists have to find that meditative place when they are creating and thus experience this glaring difference of realities when faced with marketing and showing their work. But are tapestry weavers particularly inhibited by the slow plodding nature of our work when it comes to marketing and professional issues?

(photos Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, November 12, 2011)


In lieu of some bathroom humor involving some really excellent borscht, I have opted to post a photo of my newest piece.  You all can thank me at any time.  

I did the first panel of this piece last fall.  I was unhappy with the result and decided to do a second panel to "fix" some of the design problems I had with the piece.  Here is the result.  It is 66 inches wide by 47 inches high.  I'm not sure the black background is the best--and certainly the photographer needs some assistance.  Actually, a new camera would be a great asset.  I took this with my Pentax point and shoot and the zoom distorts the weaving--so every weaving I photograph looks like it is bowed.  I adjusted the horizontal panel in this photo pretty well, but the vertical panel remains skewed.  Hopefully a new camera will be coming my way soon so I can stop banging my head against my tripod in frustration late at night (a common photographing scene in my house as I take the photos after dark to try to control the light better).  In fact as I look at the photo downloaded here, it is extremely blurry around the edges.  I think I'll have to fix that before I send this file to a juried show.  I'll post a better photo when one materializes.

The title of the piece is "Inscription."  The piece was inspired by Anni Alber's thoughts about thread as text.  "Through her continuous investigation of thread as a carrier of meaning, not simply as a utilitarian product, she was able to create art that functions as a visual language..." (Anni Albers (by Nicholas Fox Weber and Pandora Tabatabai Asbaghi): Thread as Text: The Woven Work of Anni Albers, Virginia Gardner Troy, pg 28).  I have been reading about Anni and her work for the last couple years as part of the Bauhaus project I'm involved with--which I will update you all about soon!  As a big reader and a worshiper of the written word (as well as a person with a large book tumor growing in her home), I loved the idea of creating a weaving that the viewer scanned for meaning somewhat like one would read text.  This piece was the result.