Sunday, March 11, 2018

Exhibit Thoughts

In the past two weeks I've had the opportunity to see two tapestry exhibits, both stellar in their own way.  I've also learned the results of three juried shows into which I'd entered tapestries.  And I've met with the gallery coordinator about an upcoming exhibition of several of my pieces in the Atlanta area.

I have several things I want to write about concerning each of these things... so here goes.

On February 27 I saw the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit that's currently on display at the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center, near Asheville, North Carolina.  Fifty tapestries by twenty seven TWS members hang in the Main Gallery at the FAC and are there until April 29.   The exhibit is well worth making a trip to Asheville to see. 

Tapestry Weavers South is a group to which I belong and one that's dear to my heart.  I'm one of the founding member of the organization that was born when about eighteen people from the southeast came together to establish TWS in 1996.  We've been going strong ever since and almost every year have mounted an exhibit of our members--always, to this point, an unjuried exhibit usually held somewhere in the southeastern U.S.  In 2012-2013 we teamed up with another regional group, Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound, for a joint exhibit called NW x SE that was shown in locations in both the northwest and the southeast.

The second tapestry exhibit I was fortunate to see before the end is a solo show of works by Molly Elkind.  It's currently on display at the Southeast Fiber Art Alliance Center in Chamblee, Georiga.  The title of the show is Iconic and features tapestries Molly has created in the past five years.

Many of the pieces are inspired by a sixth-century icon of the Virgin Mary, photos of Molly's mother and also self-portrait.  This is a quote from her artist statement:
"Much of contemporary art is about issues of identity, and this series is aobut identity for me, too.  My given name is Mary.  But in a larger sense I'm concerned with how impossibly high standards of goodness, purity, beauty, and obedience attributed to Mary have influenced notions of ideal womanhood and ideal motherhood.  In my tapestries I have tried to discover ways of reading Mary that acknowledges qualities of depth, imagination, and courage."
Molly is talking to a couple of visitors.
Another group of of works she calls "Illuminated Manuscript Series" and she describes the motivation for those this way:
"...inspired by my interest in medieval illuminated manuscripts.  Many of these were ... prayer books of devotions to Mary.  The graphic qualities of the manuscript pages--the dense and colorful patterns, the mix of text, images and decoration in the center, surrounded by either wide empty margins or even more dense patterning and decoration--all this inspired my series of contemporary illuminated manuscripts in tapestry form."
Seeing Molly Elkind's exhibit and reading her statement reinforces my belief that once one finds a "What"--the "Why" and "How" will follow.  The "What" was Molly wanting to explore and express about the iconic images that drew her attention.  The images of Mary combined with her own image and her mother's ... very thought provoking for the viewer and I'm sure has given Molly many hours of contemplation while developing the theme, the "Why" of it all.  The "How" she's developed along the way as she's woven more and more tapestries, taken workshops, developed new skills and techniques with the medium.  I am truly in awe of what she's accomplished in the last five years.  Molly has written about the concepts for her work at her blog--well worth reading.  Congratulations to you, Molly Elkind, for creating these passionate and beautiful tapestry pieces. 

Now... about the exhibits I've entered and been accepted into (or not).  At the last minute, I decided to enter Fantastic Fibers 2018 to be held at the Yeiser Art Center, Paducha, Kentucky.  I've entered other versions of this exhibit in the past, never successfully.  And I expected the same result this time around.  But, no... this time a piece was accepted! That was wonderful--but on the other hand, the piece I entered is 60" x 60" and framed in a float frame.  Shipping it via UPS or FedEX, the two carriers they require for receiving works, won't be possible.  Solution?  Rent a van and drive the tapestry almost 400 miles to Kentucky.  Then at the end of the exhibit, repeat the process in reverse.  Ah well.  One of the many costs of exhibiting works.

Within a day or so of learning and being excited about the Fantastic Fibers acceptance, I got word that the pieces I'd entered for the Handweavers Guild of America Small Expressions exhibit were declined.  Ah well, again.  BUT, the good news is that I'll now be able to send one of the tapestries to the American Tapestry Alliance small format UNjuried exhibit that will held in Reno, Nevada this summer.  So lose some, win some.

The third juried exhibit I'd entered is also sponsored by HGA, to be held in Reno during Convergence this summer..  The Playa is the title of the exhibit of textile works of all kinds.  Ironically, the piece I'd entered in that show I'd just sold and delivered to Molly Elkind!  Molly is allowing me to exhibit the work--thank you, Molly--I do appreciate that.

Molly, holding my tapestry she'd just can see two more of her works beside her.
Lastly, I want to mention briefly that I'm getting ready for an exhibit of several tapestries to be held in an arts center in the Atlanta area from May 28-July 28.  I'll write more about that later.  I'm currently preparing a demo loom for use in the gallery.  I'll have a tapestry partly woven for the exhibit and will return to the center to weave at least once during a Family Day.  Here's the beginning of that piece:

So... I titled this post "Exhibit Thoughts" but seems it's turned into mostly an "Exhibit News" commentary, I guess.  I'll end with these thoughts about exhibiting--it's a curious, daunting, challenging, troublesome, exhilarating, expensive, rewarding process.  Why do I do it?  To see my work in a context other than my own studio and home, for one reason.  And to share with others a little of the way I see the world.

Now,  off to the studio to actually do some weaving that can be exhibited! 


  1. Just curious - why won't shipping your tapestry through UPS or FedEx work? I spent a lot to ship mine through FedEx to the Biennial but I was extra paranoid and wrapped it in layers of bubble wrap in a box. Congratulations on your acceptances. I can't wait to see the TWS exhibit at the Folk Art Center! I wish I could have seen Molly's show. - Laurie

    1. Laurie, the cost of an artwork shipping box from Uline, one with 500lb test and foam padding all around, is $342. Then the cost of shipping would have added another $80-150 at least above that. Seems that the drive there and back would be about the same cost and I could be sure of the condition of its arrival.

      If I'd entered the piece in a more distant exhibit I'd certainly have to re-think the delivery situation. I really like the look of my tapestries as mounted in the float frames... but it definitely makes shipping them more challenging. When I use velcro at the top, along with a companion velcro-covered bar, I can roll and put into a box that's a reasonable size.

  2. Tommye, it was joy to have you come see the show and hear your thoughtful comments. And a BIG joy to receive Hope is the Thing with Feathers. It definitely deserves the audience it will have in Reno. Congrats on getting into Fantastic Fibers and The Playa! Yay, you!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Molly! I am so glad I made it to see your show and that we had some talking time. I love knowing that Hope will be with you and thanks again for loaning it for the exhibit.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts Tommye. Shows certainly are a mixed bag but a truck to KY might be sorta fun. Otherwise find a student who wants to make a few hundred bucks to deliver it for you!