Tag: Helena Hernmarck

Dispatches: Los Angeles for The Box Project Exhibition at the Fowler Museum

In the 2000s, collector Lloyd Cotsen and his then-curator the late Mary Kahelberg began what would become The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, commissioning 36 international, contemporary artists to work within a given set of parameters. They were challenged to work within the confines of an archival box—to create one-of-a-kind works of art. What followed were years of fascinating correspondence with the artists who would participate in the project. As expected, each interpreted the challenge in his or her own way, resulting in an exceedingly diverse collection of works that reflects the artists’ skill and creativity. Most of the pieces in the show are presented in their accompanying 23″ by 14″ by 3” or 14” by 14″ by 3″ boxes.

The Box Project Exhibition at the Fowler Museum Opening

The Box Project Exhibition at the Fowler Museum Opening

 

The exhibition showcases these skilled artists’ ingenious use—and often-expansive definitions—of fiber, while exploring the collector/artist relationship. The exhibition couples the box commissions with other examples of the participating artists’ larger works. Also included are some of the letters and drawings and maquettes for the exhibition — a fascinating glimpse of the creative process.

Helena Hernmarck installation, The Box Project Exhibition at the Fowler Museum. Photo by tom Grotta

Helena Hernmarck’s “box” installation and one of her larger tapestries. Photo by Tom Grotta

The 36 artists whose work appears in this exhibition are Masae Bamba, James Bassler, Mary Bero, Zane Berzina, N. Dash, Virginia Davis, Carson Fox, Shigeki Fukumoto, John Garrett, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Helena Hernmarck,  Pat Hodson, Kiyomi Iwata, Gere Kavanaugh, Ai Kijima, Hideaki Kizaki, Lewis Knauss, Nancy Koenigsberg, Gerhardt Knodel, Naomi Kobayashi, Gyöngy Laky, Paola Moreno, Jun Mitsuhashi, Kyoko Nitta, Hisako Sekijima, Barbara Murak, Cynthia Schira, Heidrun Schimmel, Carol Shinn, Sherri Smith, Hadi Tabatabai, Koji Takaki, Aune Taamal, Richard Tuttle, and Peter Weber. Work by 10 of those included is available through browngrotta arts.

Artist Talk. Photo by Tom Grotta

Artists’ panel. Photo by Tom Grotta

On September 10th, three of the artists involved, Gere Kavanaugh, Gyöngy Laky, and Hisako Sekijima joined the curator of the Cotsen Collection, Lyssa C. Stapleton, in a conversation about their respective processes and resulting “boxes.” We were fortunate to attend their talk and to catch up with a number of artist, collector and curator friends.

Hisako Sekijima in front of her works at The Box Project Exhibition at the Fowler Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Hisako Sekijima in front of her box project. Photo by Tom Grotta

“The box is a technical tool and also a spatial construct,” Sekijima told the audience, “which gave me freedom.” The artist used the box, she explained, as a mold in which multiple baskets were integrated whole.” Kavanaugh spoke at length of her work as a designer for Lloyd Cotsen, including her design of the brightly colored Neutrogena headquarters.

Laky talked about her work and the influence of the environment and feminism on her work — including her free-standing word sculpture, Slowly, composed of letters that can be read as LAG or GAL, and which was motivated by Laky’s efforts in improve gender equity in hiring in the University of California system.

Gyongy Laky. Photo by Tom Grotta

Gyongy Laky with her box project to the right and a larger work above. Photo by Tom Grotta

On October 14th, in Culture Fix, Lacy Simkowitz, curatorial assistant at the Cotsen Collection, who worked closely with artists featured in The Box Project, will discuss how the exhibition developed. From mining the archives to decisions about the exhibition checklist, Simkowitz played a key role in the development of the traveling exhibition. In this gallery talk, she will discuss case studies by James Bassler, Ai Kijima and Cynthia Schira and she share behind-the-scenes stories about the exhibition planning process.

Crowds lining up for the opening reception of The Box Project at the Fowler Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Crowds lining up for the opening reception of The Box Project at the Fowler Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Box Project: Uncommon Threads is at the Fowler through January 15, 2017. The Fowler is located on the UCLA campus, 308 Charles E. Young Drive, North, Los Angeles, California 90024; 310.825.4361.


art on paper preview: Helena Hernmarck collages

Helena Hernmarck Collages, from her stamp and Documents Series

Helena Hernmarck Collages, from her Stamp and Documents Series. photo by Tom Grotta

The art on paper fair opens next Wednesday at Pier 36 in New York City.  At browngrotta arts,  Booth 123, we’ll be featuring collages by Helena Hernmarck that meld ink watercolor wash, photocopy and rubber-stamp. Hernmarck creates the collages as studies for potential tapestries, for which she is known in the US and abroad, but like the tapestries, the delicately color-washed collages succeed on their own terms. Stamp

7hh Stamp Series 1, Helena Hernmarck, collage: photocopy; watercolor and rubber stamps on paper; white lacquered wood, 15.75" x 13.25”, 1984

7hh Stamp Series 1, Helena Hernmarck, collage: photocopy; watercolor and rubber stamps on paper; white lacquered wood, 15.75″ x 13.25”, 1984 Photo by Tom Grotta

Series 1, for example, was completed in 1985 as a tapestry  and is in the collection of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Certified Mail, was also woven in 1985. This work is in the permanent collection the Röhss Museum of Design and Decorative Arts, Gothenburg, Sweden. The hours of the exhibition are Friday, March 4th and  Saturday, March 5th, 11 – 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 6th, 12 – 6 p.m. There is a Preview, benefiting the Brooklyn Museum, Thursday, March 3rd, from 6 – 10 p.m. For ticket and other information visit: http://thepaperfair.com/ny/for-visitors/fair-dates-hours-location/.

13hh STAMP SERIES 3, Helena Hernmarck, collage: photocopy, watercolor and rubber stamps on paper, 15.75" x 13.25" x 1.5", white lacquered wood frame with den glass, 1984. Photo by Tom Grotta

13hh STAMP SERIES 3, Helena Hernmarck, collage: photocopy, watercolor and rubber stamps on paper, 15.75″ x 13.25″ x 1.5″, white lacquered wood frame with den glass, 1984. Photo by Tom Grotta


Art in the Mad Men Years — A Fond Farewell

mad-men-mid-season-finale-megan-draper-going-die-plane-crashWe’ll be sad to see the last of Don Draper and Peggy Olson tonight (is it just me, or does anyone else think that Peggy and Jimmy Olsen could be related, except for the spelling, of course?). The series is set in between 1960 and 1970 — remember Pete’s father dying on American Airlines Flight #1 in 1962; Kennedy’s assaination the day before Roger’s daughter’s wedding in 1963; Don getting tickets to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965 and this season’s premier with Don watching Nixon announcing troops in Cambodia in 1970?. The series’ sets and costumes are carefully designed, to highlight the clothing, furniture and design of the period. That’s a period that we are nostalgic about. Happily, we live with some classic furniture from those years, including a desk, server and beds by the late Edgar Anderson, a couple of Kennedy rockers, Bertoia side chairs, a Saarinen table, re-issued Uten.silo Wall-Alls and an Arredoluce Monza Triennial floor lamp. We also have the good fortune to promote important artworks from that period, which was a seminal one for contemporary textile art. Here, in honor of Don, Joan, Peggy and rest of the guys, a gallery of fiber art from the Mad Men years.

1962

52r WARP IKAT SPIRAL, Ed Rossbach, 3’ X 9’, 1962

52r WARP IKAT SPIRAL, Ed Rossbach, 3’ X 9’, 1962, photo by Tom Grotta

1964

1ma/r  Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz sisal 54" x 43" x 9", 1964

1ma/r Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz
sisal
54″ x 43″ x 9″, 1964, photo by Tom Grotta

1965-66

21t PATH II, Lenore Tawney, linen 74" x 30", ca. 1965-66, photo by tom grotta

21t PATH II, Lenore Tawney, linen
74″ x 30″, ca. 1965-66, photo by Tom Grotta

1966

146mr Eclate de Braise, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, wool, 33" x 24", 1966, photo by Tom Grotta

146mr Eclate de Braise, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, wool, 33″ x 24″, 1966, photo by Tom Grotta

1967

1jo/r WARSZAWA Jolanta Owidzka wool, linen and metallic thread 90" x 68",1967, photo by Tom Grotta

1jo/r WARSZAWA
Jolanta Owidzka
wool, linen and metallic thread
90″ x 68″,1967, photo by Tom Grotta

1968

2ws Untitled, Wojciech Sadley , mixed media, 32” x 24”, 1968, photo by Tom Grotta

2ws Untitled, Wojciech Sadley , mixed media, 32” x 24”, 1968, photo by Tom Grotta

1969

Talking Trudeau-Nixon by Helena Hernmarck shown at the Lausanne Biennial in 1969, 51" x 153", photo by Helena Hernmarck

Talking Trudeau-Nixon by Helena Hernmarck
shown at the Lausanne Biennial in 1969, 51″ x 153″, photo by Helena Hernmarck

1970’s

2lk Primitive Figures Bird and insects, Luba Krejci, knotted linen, 40.5" x 44.5" x 2", circa 1970s, photo by Tom grotta

2lk Primitive Figures Bird and insects, Luba Krejci, knotted linen, 40.5″ x 44.5″ x 2″, circa 1970s, photo by Tom Grotta

(For still more on mid-century design, there’s Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today currently at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, which considers the important contributions of women to modernism in postwar visual culture. In the 1950s and 60s, when painting, sculpture, and architecture were dominated by men, and women had considerable impact in alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics, and metals.)


In Memoriam: Niels Diffrient

Niels Diffrient

Niels Diffrient, photo by Helena Hernmarck

browngrotta arts lost a close friend and the world an influential designer last month, with the passing of Niels Diffrient. With an academic foundation in design and architecture and a degree from Cranbrook Academy, Diffrient channeled his knowledge of engineering, architecture and human factors into the creation of highly functional and aesthetically timeless designs, including the Freedom, Liberty and World chairs for the company Humanscale. His three-volume reference work, Humanscale 1/2/3, Humanscale 4/5/6, and Humanscale 7/8/9 explored the relationship of spine to chair and contributed to the quest for the totally comfortable place to sit down. In 2002, he told TED audiences about his early design inspirations — aircraft and aviators in the 1930s — and much more. You can watch him at:

Diffrient’s was an interesting personal story, which he covered in a memoir last year, Confessions of a Generalist.  He was refreshingly forthright, in a way that those of us from the Midwest recognize and appreciate. Born on a farm in Star, Mississippi in 1928, his family moved to Detroit in search of work. Diffrient attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Wayne State University and completed a BFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield, Michigan. At Cranbrook, he worked with Eero Saarinen on contemporary chairs for Knoll. After graduation, traveled to Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1954 and worked on the award-winning Borletti sewing machine. Returning to the US, he joined Henry Dreyfuss Associates and worked on products for, among others, John Deere, Polaroid and Bell Telephone. He taught at UCLA and Yale. He moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut with his wife, textile artist, Helena Hernmarck, in the early 80s and founded Niels Diffrient Product Design, where the couple shared a design and tapestry studio until his death. Diffrient spoke to Martin C. Pedersen of Metropolis in February about linkage in his life, work and philosophy http://www.metropolismag.com/Point-of-View/June-2013/Niels-Diffrient-A-Tribute-in-Conversation. “Your new book seems like a different thing. It’s part memoir, part philosophy of design,” Pedersen observed. “I can’t separate those things,” Diffrient responded. “I don’t go to work and become a different person. I live exactly what I preach. My own life is guided by the same principles. So I can’t separate them. I didn’t really think about it, but in a way it helps to make this sort of thing personal. I think it gives it life.” He will be greatly missed.


November 26th: Our Online Exhibition Opens With an Offer for CyberMonday

On Monday, November 26th, browngrotta arts will present an online version of our 25th anniversary exhibition,Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture at browngrotta.com. The comprehensive exhibition highlights browngrotta arts’ 25 years promoting international contemporary art. Viewers can click on any image in the online exhibition to reach a page with more information about the artists and their work.

“Some works in Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture reflect the early days of contemporary textile art and sculpture movement,” says Tom Grotta, founder and co-curator at browngrotta arts. “There are also current works by both established and emerging artists, which provide an indication of where the movement is now and where it may be headed.”

Since Monday the 26th is CyberMonday this year, sales of art, books, catalogs, videos or dvds placed online or by telephone that day will be discounted 10% (excluding tax and shipping). In addition, bga will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation for each sale made from November 24th through December 31, 2012. Visit browngrotta.com. For more information call Tom at 203.834.0623 or email us at art@browngrotta.com.


Coast to Coast — Exhibitions Around the US

Here’s a round up of exhibitions throughout the US that are worth traveling to see.  They are listed in date order — a few of them close this month or next; others are open through the fall.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Craft Spoken Here
Last Week – through August 12th

Artists in the exhibit include: clockwise; WATERFALL by Lenore Tawney; SPIRALS AND PATHS by Rebecca Medel; CERAMIC 42 by Yasuhisa Kohyama; BODY LANGUAGE by John McQueen; SEASIDE by Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet; RAY by Mary Merkel-Hess

With Craft Spoken Here, curated by Elisabeth Agro, the Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art seizes the opportunity to experiment with its craft collection and to understand craft in an international context. Some 40 contemporary works from 1960 to the present in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper and fiber—some by living, acclaimed artists, including Lenore Tawney, Rebecca Medel, Yasuhisa Kohyama, John McQueen,  Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet, and Mary Merkel-Hess and others by lesser-known creators—are on view. Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe, the works highlight formal qualities that cross cultures, time, and media. Hear Agro describe the evolution of the exhibition and the installation of Tawney’s Fountain of Water and Word, in a podcast at the art blog.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Perelman Building
2525 Pennsylvania Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130
phone 215.763.8100
www.philamuseum.org

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
At First Light: The Katagami Sculpture of Jennifer Falck Linssen
through September 16, 2012

Handcrafted vessel of katagami-style handcarved paper. Materials include archival cotton paper, aluminum, waxed linen, paint, varnish, freshwater pearl, and sterling silver.

Utilizing the ancient Japanese paper carving technique of katagami, Colorado-based artist Jennifer Falck Linssen creates three-dimensional sculptures that explore the beauty of line and the delicacy of nature. Since 2003, Jennifer has been shaping katagami stencils into three-dimensional vessels and sculptures, combining the katagami paper carving with more traditional metal-smithing and basketry techniques to create contemporary sculptures that transform the two-dimensional stencil into a unique three-dimensional art form.

Myrtle Beach Museum of Art
3100 South Ocean Boulevard
(across from Springmaid Pier)
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
phone 843.238.2510
fax 843.238.2910
www.myrtlebeachartmuseum.org

East Hampton, New York
Accumulations NOW
through October 6th

Dawn MacNutt is one of the artists included in Accumulations NOW

Accumulations: NOW bills itself as, “[s]imply, the best of craft. NOW.” Cuurated by Jack Lenor Larsen, the exhibition at LongHouse Reserve features 500 works made in the last 100 years, including a number of important pieces from the collection of the late Dena Katzenberg. Artists shown in the NOW collections include, in fiber Anni Albers, Jun-ichi Arai, Dawn MacNutt, Ed Rossbach, Peter Collingwood, Ethel Stein, Helena Hernmarck and Chunghie Lee; in clay Hans Coper, Toshiko Takezu and Peter Voulkos; hollowware by Chunghi Choo; and furniture masters including Judy Kensley McKie and Edward Wormley. You can see the exhibition catalog and installation shots, here: Accumulations_Now_Catalog.pdf and here: http://www.longhouse.org

LongHouse Reserve
133 Hands Creek Road  East Hampton, NY 11937
phone 631.604.5330
http://longhouse.org

 

San Francisco, California
Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers
Part one through October 6th
Part two October 13 – December 29th

Takaaki Tanaka in front of his work at Fiber Futures when it was in New York at the Japan Society

If you missed this remarkable exhibition last fall at the Japan Society in New York (or in an earlier incarnation in Japan) you’ve got another chance. Fiber Futures explores a new art that is emerging from a remarkable fusion of Japanese artisanal and industrial textile making. Coaxed from materials as age-old as hemp and newly developed as microfilaments, a varied array of works by 30 artists from multiple generations, including Hisako Sekijima, Takaaki TanakaNaoko Serino, Hideho Tanaka, Naomi Kobayahsi and Kyoko Kumai, are on view in this important two-part exhibition.

Museum of Craft and Folk Art
51 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
phone 415.227.4888
http://www.mocfa.org

Minneapolis, Minnesota
In Our Nature: Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck
through October 14th

Helena Hernmarck 2009 FOREST PATH , wool and linen, 6′ 7″ x 6′ 7

In Our Nature: Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck, is an assemblage of 19 large-scale tapestries by  legendary trompe-l’oeil weaver, Helena Hernmarck. Monumental works immerse the viewer in the best of nature: lush blooms, rich green forest scenes, and sunny poppy pastures. Hernmarck’s work represents a lifetime of closely honed weaving technique that combines intensely sensitive attention to color with one-of-a-kind combination of textures creating layered, shaded effects. The tapestries in In Our Nature: Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck are on loan from three major arts museums, several corporate and individual collectors, and from Hernmarck’s own collection.

American Swedish Institute
2600 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55407
phone 612.871.4907
http://www.asimn.org


Exhibition News: Sourcing the Museum at the Textile Museum in DC through August 19th

Sourcing the Museum Lia Cook inspired by Syrian 6-7th century and Egyptian 550-625 coptic textile

For Sourcing the Museum, 11 artists (Olga de Amaral, James Bassler, Polly Barton, Archie Brennan, Lia Cook, Helena Hernmarck, Ayako Nikamoto, Jon Eric Riis, Warren Seelig, Kay Sekimachi, and Ethel Stein) were invited by renowned textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen to artists explore the Museum’s historically and culturally varied collections. The resulting exhibition includes 12 new artworks that the artists created, displayed alongside the fabrics that inspired them. The historical textiles highlight the wide scope of the Museum’s collections, ranging from rare Pre-Columbian and Late Roman weavings to Japanese kimono and Central Asian ikats.

 

Sourcing the Museum Helena Hernmarck re-envisiones this 9th-century Egyptian fragment

Helena Hernmarck, for example, re-envisioned a 9th-century Egyptian fragment in an abstract, loose weave. “It was the color that won the day,” she says,”and getting to closely study what an 1100-year-old thread looks like woven in a carpet. There is pile in the carpet, and that made me think, in this case I would weave a looser structure to capture the illusion of pile. This is an oxymoron, since pile is the fiber being seen into its cut, and I am letting the fiber, lying down flat, carry that message. A challenge: but to me, this kind of time-consuming, visually intimate study of something greatly enlarged, is rewarding. I find the advantage of making the plastic strips carry the structure, means I am allowed flexibility how I weave the wool weft — it feels more like sketching than weaving. And it has volume, the volume of puffy wool threads, lending an extra dimension. In other words, this is a double weave, with the lower layer made with the plastic strips; and the upper, plain weave and soumak layer, made with wool, linen and cotton threads. It is the first time I have tried loosening the surface structure like this, still aiming to give an illusion of depth.”

Ethel Stein inspired by a 19th century robe , central asia, Uzbekistan and Bukhara, photo by Tom Grotta

According to the Washington’s Post (“At the Textile Museum weaving tradition into art,” Danielle O’Steen, 3/24/12), Sourcing the Museum “feels fresh and raw…” O’Steen describes the connections that the artists made between old and new as, “loose, and maybe fleeting in the grand scheme of a textile tradition. But the strength of Sourcing the Museum lies in its premise, as it challenges contemporary practitioners to consider a history of traditions, and maybe even embrace lost legacies.” The exhibition continues through August 19, 2012. The Museum is at: 2320 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008-4088;Phone: (202) 667-0441.


Spinning Straw Into Gold: ACC Gold Medalists and Fellows at SOFA Chicago and Online

5R CEDAR EXPORT BUNDLE. Ed Rossbach, plaited cedar bark from Washington state with heat transfer drawing, waxed linen, rayon and rags, 5.5" x 11" x 9", 1993, ©Tom Grotta, 2011

This year at SOFA Chicago (November 4-6) the American Craft Council (ACC) will recognize 28 artists who have been awarded an ACC Gold Medal between 1994 and 2010 in a display at the Navy Pier, curated by Michael Monroe. The ACC awards recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding artistic achievement and leadership in the field for 25 years or more.  Since 1981, the ACC has selected just under four dozen artists working in Fiber to receive a Gold Medal for consummate craftsmanship and/or join its College of Fellows.  We’ve mounted an online exhibition of 21 these artists on our website, browngrotta.com, under Awards. Many of these artists are featured in the catalogs published by browngrotta arts and in the videos and other publications we offer. http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/catalogs.php Works by Fellows and Medalists  Adela Akers, Dorothy Gill Barnes , Lia Cook, Helena Hernmarck, Gyöngy Laky, John McQueen and Norma Minkowitz are featured in our current exhibition,  Stimulus: art and its inceptionEnjoy the show.

 


Dispatches: Helena Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa at Purdue

Helena Hernmarck's Tabula Rasa at the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue's College of Liberal Arts

In 2009, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana selected Helena Hernmarck to design and execute a tapestry for the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. Lisa Lee Peterson, Professor and Graduate Director of Department of Art and Design, was instrumental in Hernmarck’s selection by the university art committee.  “Of the artists working in tapestry today,” the University’s press materials quote Jack Lenor Larson, “Helena Hernmarck stands without peer.  Her works have been selected for scores of prestigious public spaces and are seen each year by millions of viewers.  The hallmark of Ms. Hernmarck’s work is her skill in creating the optical illusion of three-dimensional designs on flat but richly textured surfaces of tapestry.”

Helena Hernmarck and Lisa Lee Peterson in Front of Tabula Rasa at Purdue University. Photo by Skif Peterson

The University determined the location of the piece — the stairwell between the first and second floors — but left the other details to Hernmarck, who addressed two needs in her conception for the piece. She wanted the designed image to collectively represent the various art forms that are studied within the building — painting, ceramic, jewelry, textile, industrial design, theater, dance and music and she wanted the design to fit within the chosen area and increase the feeling of space in the stairwell.

Designed during the summer 2009, Hernmarck settled on a theme for the design: tabula rasa, the unwritten page, also a piece of ceramic that is scraped clean of marks after each use. Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa would represent the beginning of the creative journey, whether at inception or at the commencement of an additional phase of the creative process.  During sketching, Hernmarck often finds the road to a final design through a process of changes or “scraping away” of initial ideas in such a way that previous marks still become part of the overall design. The early phase of Tabula Rasa is referenced in the few words written on a white page woven in the tapestry.

Hernmarck achieved the feeling of space for the stairwell that she envisioned by painting and then photographing small cut-up pieces of watercolors so that they cast shadows creating an image of being in flight. This enabled her to place the smallest of the elements of Tabula Rasa closest to the plane of the image, i.e. the place with the most sense of urgency. The final design includes a play on shadows to create a visual illusion on different levels which solved the challenge of designing the lower portion of the work to catch the eye of a person walking up the staircase.

Tabula Rasa, just off-the-loom on display at the Dalamas Museum, Falun, Sweden

Alice Lund Textiles, Borlange, Sweden produced the tapestry. The main weavers were Britt-Marie Bertilsson and Ebba Bergstrom. Tabula Rasa is the twenty-first tapestry of Helena Hernmarck’s design and technique to be woven at Alice Lund Textiles since 1975. The weaving took 30 weeks from beginning to finish. During this time, Hernmarck visited the studio periodically in order to oversee the quality of the work and to participate in both the weaving and the dying process of the wool with its numerous variations, shades and values. The colors were custom dyed at Wålstedts Textile Spinning and Dying Workshop in Dala-Floda. For Tabula Rasa the workshop dyed 24 kg of wool in 41 different colors. Hernmarck prefers to use of a variety of different qualities in the spun wool, such as thin gobeline, gobelin with rya wool, and single-ply rya wool. The final work includes hundreds of different colors and textures. A video of the weaving of  Tabula Rasa can be viewed at http://browngrotta.com/Pages/hernmarck.php.

Tabula Rasa by Helena Hernmarck Detail

Hernmarck’s unique technique combines different weaving methods and patterns with which she has experimented for more than 45 years. The Hernmarck tapestry technique creates a coarse texture much like the Impressionists’ painting style of the early 1900s. A full-scale enlargement of the image in black and white is created before beginning the tapestry. The cartoon is then adhered to the back side of the tapestry and draped over an aluminum tube that presses the cartoon up against the warp from underneath. The cartoon makes it possible to follow the forms and shadows that can be seen through the warp threads. In order to observe what the weaving will look like at a distance, the artist looks through a small pair of binoculars, turned backwards.  While the tapestry is woven on the horizontal loom, only 50 cm of the tapestry can be viewed at one time.  The ongoing action and reaction in changing colors and weaving techniques creates the overall beauty of the tapestry.

Tabula Rasa was unveiled at Purdue on October 12, 2010. The final size of the tapestry is 3 meters high x 4.45 meters wide (11′ x 14.3′); the weight about 50 kg. Hernmarck has created a related companion piece, Tabula Rasa 2, which is available for sale. http://browngrotta.com/Pages/newthisweek.php

Books Make Great Gifts 2010: Artist Recommendations, Part III

Here is the final set of this year’s book recommendations from artists whose work browngrotta arts represents. In the next posting, I’ll list the books Tom and have been talking up in 2010.

Kiyomi Iwata finds The Human Condition, a six-volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa a continuing inspiration.  Published between 1956 and 1958, Kiyomi says, “it is an epic novel about an ordinary man who tried to live true to his own soul during the Second World War.”  It is not available in English, but a well-reviewed film version, Ningen No Joken, directed by Matsaki Kobayashi, can be found on DVD. Among Kiyomi’s favorite books are Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio, who photographed 30 families in 24 countries – 600 meals in all, and  Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life and Vegetables by Joan Gussow. And Kyomi casts another vote for Haruki Murakami as best in 2010, ranking 1Q84 as the best book she read this year. (Lena McGrath Welker selected Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore as her favorite read this year.) There are three volumes in the 1Q84 series, which has created a sensation in Japan. The first two have been translated into English and will be published by Knopf in September 2011. A third translation will follow.

Nancy Moore Bess reports, “Some version of How to Wrap Five Eggs will always be on my coffee table, in my studio, or on my lap. The most recent purchase in a Tokyo used book bookstore is a boxed edition from the early 1970s and includes all the images we love, plus many photographs documenting the process of making. What a find! New workshops inspired me to reread (with some care) Kunio Ekiguchi’s Gift Wrapping: Creative Ideas from Japan which is much more than a book about giving gifts. Much of her introduction explains the connection between traditional packaging (tsutsumi) and gift wrapping (origata), something I had forgotten.”  Nancy notes that her “art” reading has been devoted to trying to understand the “vocabulary of beauty.”  She writes, “I have an old, dented copy from the Strand of Japanese Sense of Beauty. I have reread every copy of every book I own that discusses wabi-sabi in Japan. Diane Durston’s Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life is the one I keep by my reading chair. I can flip it open to any page and be delighted. Tim McCreight wrote two books I go back to: Design Language and Design Language: Interpretive Edition. I love the way these books all make me evaluate what I want to look at and touch.”

For continuing inspiration, Helena Hernmarck returns to Gunta Stölzl: Bauhaus Master.  The book includes dozens of key works by Stölzl  accompanied by excerpts drawn from her journals, letters and articles. The writings offer an intimate view of the artist’s life and work as a student, a Red Cross nurse during the war, student and then master of the weaving workshop  at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau and founder of her own hand-weaving business in Zurich. “The illustrations are beautiful,” says Helena, “and it’s so interesting to read Stölz’s impressions of what occurred at the Bauhaus, as it was happening.” Helena is currently reading My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor.  Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist experienced a massive stroke at 37 when a blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain. It would take eight years for Taylor to heal completely. The stroke taught Taylor that the feeling of nirvana is never more than a mere thought away and can be accessed by stepping to the right of our left brains.