Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From the Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America


Some contemporary American tapestry weavers are working in a style that deliberately breaks the link with centuries of European tapestry weaving, which most often aims to be representational or pictorial in content. While a great number of remarkable works by contemporary tapestry artists are produced in this pictorial manner and are well worth consideration and commendation, a strong case can be made for more abstract imagery. The few American tapestry weavers who consciously break from the linkage to European style have developed styles that may be said to be more American, than from other influences. By examining my own work and that of related artists, the paper will discuss how this evolution has taken place. This will include examination of influences that have driven the development of a way of working that is separate from historical tapestry imagery. Time will be spent in showing how connections to historical textiles (such as kimono, tribal rugs, Navaho and Andean textiles) are often addressed and incorporated into the tapestries. Likewise, examples of how political and social issues can be embodied, within the framework of abstract imagery, or at least imagery that is more geometric than representational. Having developed the practice of designing tapestry on the computer screen, analogies between digital and tactile are often drawn, not dissimilar to the grid of the loom. Rather than suggesting this way of working should replace European style tapestry, it is offered as an alternative to broaden the options of artistic expression.