Friday, May 6, 2016

Tapestry Weavers South 20th Anniversary exhibit

Tapestry Weavers South, a regional organization that I've been involved with since it began in 1996, is holding a 20th anniversary exhibit at Yadkin Arts Center, Yadkinville, NC.  The opening was on May 3.  It was a lovely event with several members present as well as others from the community and also from a weaving class that was being held nearby.  The exhibit will be up until July 8.

Here are a few photos I took at the opening:

The demo loom is one I'd sent for the exhibit opening.
The TWS banner in the center of the information panels is one our group created on a demo loom that we had set up at an earlier exhibit a few years ago.  Members would weave a small section when visiting the exhibit and also encouraged visitors to either weave bit or to suggest the next color to be used.
I didn't get photos of individual pieces but Laurie O'Neil, one of our members, did.  She's uploaded a Flikr album from the exhibit that I'll link below.
That's Laurie at the center of the photo, talking to Linda Weghorst and to Betty Hilton-Nash.  I'm not sure who the other viewers are--sorry!
Another view... unfortunately, I didn't get good photos of the rest of the exhibit.  But... here's a link to Laurie's photo album. Thanks, Laurie, permission to post it here!
Tapestry Weavers South is having its twentieth year celebration throughout 2016 since we became an "official" organization in 1996.  But the seeds for it were planted a few years earlier in the minds of a number of tapestry weavers in the Southeast who began to meet each other at workshops.  Word of mouth among weaving guilds were leading people to other folks who were interested in weaving tapestries.

A few of us involved with tapestry weaving in the early 1990s, and who'd gotten to know each other through American Tapestry Alliance or from workshops, thought the time was right to see if we could get something off the ground that would provide mutual support for our obsession passion, and build a way to learn, share and also show the tapestries we were creating. Our push to organize gained momentum in preparation for the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence to be held next in Atlanta. We had two specific goals in mind as we began to organize, as ways to promote tapestry during that 1998 Convergence:
1.  To continue the small format, non-juried tapestry exhibit concept that had been held in Portland, Oregon in 1996 during Convergence.
2.  To assist in the ATA Biennial II that was to be held at Fernbank during Convergence. The next one was to be held in Atlanta in 1998!  
In early 1996 we started contacting anyone we could find in the Southeast who was involved with tapestry in some way.  We assembled a list of names and addresses and sent out a flyer with the following heading:   

Please join us for an organizational 
 of a 

Here were our tentative agenda items:
  • form an organization for southern or southeastern tapestry
  • slide presentation of the 1996 American Tapestry Alliance Biennial I
  • discussion of the ATA Biennial II scheduled in 1998 in conjunction with Convergence in Atlanta, GA
  • discussion of ways a southeastern tapestry group may assist with the educational aspects of the '98 exhibit at Fernbank Natural History Museum
  • discussion of breed-specific yarns and how this factor influences characteristics of tapestry yarns
  • a show and tell of tapestries from those present (bring one or more with you!)
  • visit Denise Kraft Roberson's tapestry studio adjacent to Forrest Hills
  • meet new and old friends in tapestry in an informal, casual, beautiful mountain setting "far from the madding crowd!"
We didn't try to created the organization all on our own, however.  In the months leading up to the meeting, other tapestry weavers in the country who belonged to regional tapestry groups were contacted.  Micala Sidore (Tapestry Weavers in New England--TWiNE), Christine Laffer (Tapestry Weavers West--TWW), and Kathe Todd-Hooker (Tapestry Forum) all gave great advice for us to consider.  I also had information from the Canadian Tapestry Network about their organization.

Our first meeting was held near Dahlonega, Georgia at Forrest Hills Mountain Resort, on November 15 and 16, 1996.  Eighteen people showed up for that meeting--seven from Georgia, five from North Carolina, three from Tennessee, and three from Virginia.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of files dealing with organizational stuff as I worked on assorted details back in the day.  We'd even considered calling the organization TWITS (Tapestry Weavers in the South)... luckily that idea was scrapped!!

Photo collage that I copied and sent with our first newsletter--old school cut and paste method!
Of those people in attendance at that initial TWS meeting, many were able to attend our 10th year anniversary in 2006, also held at Forrest Hills.  And there were three of us who were able to attend the 20th anniversary opening the other evening!  Several others had other plans and weren't able to be in Yadkinville for the exhibit.  As a way to continue our 20th anniversary celebration, TWS will have a retreat at St. Simon's Island in October of this year and I know that there will be many of us "oldies" there along with newer members.  The group now has over seventy members, I believe.

I wrote this in the first TWS newsletter, dated July 10, 1998:

"... dreams were abounding, we thought we could do it with the help of each other (work with the Atlanta Convergence tapestry events), and now those dreams have become reality."

Several on the initial list of those attending that first meeting no longer are weaving and a couple have, sadly, passed on.  But the seed was planted and now, two decades later,  we can look back and see how Tapestry Weavers South is flourishing. Here's for many more decades to come! 

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