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Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft presents The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestry and Looming Local: Contemporary Kentucky Tapestry
November 21, 2014 @ 10:00 am - January 25, 2015 @ 5:00 pmFree
As more contemporary artists incorporate traditional craft processes into their practice, weaving is experiencing an international resurgence. The tapestries in New Art of the Loom are not merely decorative or functional; the artists explore a broad range of themes from cultural identity and formalism to storytelling and history through a labor-intensive medium. Featuring 24 tapestries by artists from 16 different countries, this exhibition illuminates the continuing and dynamic tradition of the loom in contemporary artistic practice worldwide. According to curator Dirk Holger, “In tapestry the craft is the art. The art of tapestry-making, both in ancient and modern times, connects the artists’ physical body with their creative vision through the manipulation of a medium rife with cultural histories.”
Vibrant in Europe in the Middle Ages through the 18th century, the popularity of tapestries waned as it was associated with domesticity and femininity. It was in the late nineteenth-century that William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement renewed interest in tapestry with an appreciation for design and the handmade. The tactility of tapestries, the seemingly ordinary materials, and the nostalgia for tradition are all emphasized by the sheer labor associated with weaving. Tapestries can be both familiar objects of domestic life and the products of labor and creativity.
The methods used by contemporary weavers are the same practiced for two millennia across the world, a testament to the durability and adaptability of the medium. All of the pieces in the exhibition are woven on a loom by hand, a laborious task that requires skill and experience. The tapestries in New Art of the Loom represent an intersection of art and craft that brings together a variety of contemporary artists working in tapestry, incorporating such widely varying inspirations as the landscape, Pop Art, symbolism, and formalism.
This exhibition begins chronologically with the 1965 tapestry Lunaris by famed French artist Jean Lurćat. His widely influential book of 1962 influenced a generation of Modern tapestry artists. Together, they organized the first of 16 tapestry biennials in Lausanne, Switzerland. Tapestry became a centerpiece in the Modern aesthetic, touted as the “contemporary mural.” As tapestry was incorporated into a broader fiber arts movement, some tapestry artists refocused and reexamined the medium, balancing traditional methods with contemporary concerns.
The artists in this exhibition are heirs to the Modern tapestry movement of the 1960s that argued tapestry could adapt and expand to meet the conceptual concerns of contemporary art. For example, Ibolya Hegyi investigates science through her imagery of weather and the cosmos. Susan Martin-Maffei looks to the urban landscape for her subject, inspired by pre-Columbian and Medieval tapestry. Dirk Holger emphasizes the empirical dimension of tapestry, allowing visitors the tactile experience through touch. William Kentridge and Lorna Ramlochansingh address social identity and culture. These artists serve as examples of the diversity of contemporary tapestry and its capacity to convey more than beautiful narrative or pattern.
The New Art of the Loom featured artists: Christina Altona, Malgorzata Buczek, Thomas Cronenberg, Thoma Ewen, Susan Hart Henegar, Ibolya Hegyi, Barbara Heller, Dirk Holger, Susan Iverson, William Kentridge, Lialia Kuchma, Ulrika Leander, Jean Lurçat, Susan Martin Maffei, Sayed Mahmoud, Ann Naustdal, Inge Nørgaard, Lorna Ramlochansingh, Jon-Eric Riis, Bum Soo Song, Miyuki Tatsumi, Joyce Tien, Henriette Zegers ten Hom
Looming Local featured artists: Dobree Adams, Philis Alvic, Tori Kleinert and Arturo Alonzo Sandoval