tapestry

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Art

Brimming with Lush Texture, Mixed-Media Tapestries by April Bey Envision an Afrofuturist World

May 5, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

“Your Failure is Not a Victory for Me” (2022), watercolor, graphite, acrylic paint, digitally printed/woven textiles, hand sewing, 110 x 72 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach. All images shared with permission

How do we get from where we are to where we want to be with all of these constructs in the way? How do we move forward if we are constantly having to fight back? The past rolls in like a fog and clogs conversations about tomorrow with despair.

April Bey, a Black, queer, mixed-media artist, reminds us that sometimes, in order to get free, we must transcend. Positioning herself within the Afro-futurist tradition, she works with a fictional universe called Atlantica. Atlantica is inspired by the alien stories her father used to tell her as a child to explain racial oppression in the Bahamas and the U.S. Now, based in Los Angeles, Bey uses Atlantica to construct the aesthetics of the future—a reality where Black people are free from the confines of white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism.

As a Nassau, Bahamas native, Bey also incorporates the region’s tropical flora in her work. She positions the futurity of Black people in direct relationship to the environment, which can manifest as a physical landscape buzzing with harmonious texture, and draws on the legacy of Black art and literature that demonstrates how the natural world has always been part of Black liberation.

Her intricate stitching of Black people in grandeur also adds a layer of decadence to these stories that is reminiscent of African diasporic cuisine. Food seasoned over long periods of time or slow-cooked absorbs the depths of those flavors, and when tasted, envelops the palette. The process and attention to detail, alongside the historical and cultural knowledge, are the foundation.

 

“Don’t Think We’re Soft Because We’re Gracious” (2022), watercolor printed sherpa and sequins on canvas hand-sewn into faux fur, 45.5 x 57 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

This work, like the environment and cuisine, is immersive. Sequins, eco-fur frames, wax fabric woven into large-scale blankets, and colorful patterns are enticing in their pleasure and vitality. The sense-heavy appeal helps transport the viewer beyond the visual and into the spirit of the body, connecting generations across space and time and planting the seeds of the future. Alexis Pauline Gumbs demonstrates this connection in an essay on combat breathing, which our ancestors used to claim their freedom in a world that would not acknowledge it, and Bey conjures this through-line in stirring pieces such as “Don’t Think We’re Soft Because We’re Gracious.”

Bey’s work adds to the long and transformative history of Black and queer people who have subverted power structures through futurity, love, and hybridity. And how fitting? For she knows that to be queer is to live in the future anyway.

You can catch the artist’s solo exhibition, Colonial Swag, at TERN Gallery until May 28 and follow her on Instagram for updates and to see close-ups of her works.

 

“Calathea Azul” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa textiles, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“I’m the One Selling the Records…They Comin to See ME” (2021), digitally woven tapestry, sherpa, canvas, metallic cord, glitter (currency), hand-sewing, epoxy resin on wood panel, 36 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“Fear No Man” (2022), digitally printed and woven blanket with hand-sewn “African” Chinese knockoff wax fabric, 80 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“Calathea Barrette” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa textiles, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach

“They Fine Pass Mami Wata” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa, metallic thread, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and TERN Gallery

“You Toilet Paper Soft” (2022), woven textiles, sherpa, metallic thread, resin, glitter on canvas, 24 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of April Bey and TERN Gallery

 

 



Art Craft

Rainbow Tapestries by Judit Just Layer Cut and Woven Yarns into Textured Patches

March 31, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Judit Just, shared with permission

Asheville-based artist Judit Just of jujujust (previously) transforms twisted ropes, skeins of cotton, and plush, carpet-like tufts into roving, abstract tapestries. Suspended from skinny wooden dowels painted to match their hanging counterparts, the sculptural textiles tend to swell in amorphous patches and curved lines before falling into thick patches of fringe. Just’s color palettes parallel the contrast in textures, with soft, pastel tones alongside bright, neon-like hues.

The artist is currently working on a large-scale tapestry for Culture Object, which opens on May 10 at Culture Object, and plans to release new pieces in her shop this Friday. See more of her process on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Tender Embroidered Portraits by Ruth Miller Are Tinged with Expressive Colors

January 20, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Congregants,” 20 x 35 inches. All images © Ruth Miller, shared with permission

Beginning with a line drawing in pencil, U.S.-based artist Ruth Miller renders hand-embroidered portraits based on photos. Her wool tapestries and thread drawings layer stitches in yarns of both realistic and fanciful colors, creating expressive depictions that use the material’s texture to enhance light and shadow. “Coupled with realistic drawing, that tiny amount of physical depth brings the images closer, giving them a more immediate sense of presence… In the months that they’re still in my studio, the stories they tell become more concrete and nuanced in my mind, just as they would in a steadily lengthening conversation,” the artist writes.

Miller’s works are often life-sized and take months to complete, a process she details on her site. “At work, I spend a good deal of time simply looking; first seeing, then wondering,” she shares. “Each of the pieces you see on this page changed me as the narratives within them took form within me.” (via Women’s Art)

 

“The Impossible Dream is the Gateway to Self-Love”

Left: “Teacup Fishing,” hand-embroidered wool on fabric, 58 x 31 inches. Right: “Our Lady of Unassailable Well-being,” hand-embroidered wool on fabric, 19 x 21 inches

Detail of “Teacup Fishing,” hand-embroidered wool on fabric, 58 x 31 inches

“Duafe”

Detail of “Unspoken Truths”

Photo by Ann Madden

 

 



Art

Industrial Materials and Rugged Topographies Converge in Jacqueline Surdell's Knotted Tapestries

July 29, 2021

Grace Ebert

“We Will Win: Our Banner in the Sky (after Frederic Edwin Church)” (2020), cotton cord, nylon, paracord, fabric, and ribbons, 84 x 108 x 12 inches, 120-inch bar. Photo by Ian Vecchiotti. Images courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell and Patricia Sweetow Gallery, shared with permission

Chicago-based artist Jacqueline Surdell sutures lengths of rope, fabric, and silky ribbons into sprawling abstract tapestries that hang from walls and standalone armatures in textured, colorful masses. Swelling clusters of knots and ties, loose weaves, braided tunnels, and dangling strands compose her three-dimensional compositions that are disrupted by sporadically used items like steel chains, volleyballs, and polyester shower curtains. Because of the scale of the pieces and the hefty materials, the artist often uses her body as a shuttle to weave the brightly colored fibers together on massive hand-built looms.

Surdell embeds parts of her Chicago upbringing in her wall sculptures, especially childhood memories of her grandmother’s landscape paintings and her grandfather’s job in South Side steel mills. These two experiences converge in her textured works by evoking vast terrains and the city’s industrial history through her use of commercial materials. Each piece offers further reflections on today’s world, with energetic and chaotic pieces like “We Will Win: Our Banner in the Sky” (shown above) responding to the fraught political landscape in the U.S. and destructive events like wildfires and loss of coral reefs sparked by the climate crisis.

You can find more of Surdell’s large-scale tapestries on her site, and head to Instagram to see her latest work-in-progress.

 

Detail of “We Will Win: Our Banner in the Sky (after Frederic Edwin Church)” (2020), cotton cord, nylon, paracord, fabric, and ribbons, 84 x 108 x 12 inches, 120-inch bar. Photo by Ian Vecchiotti

“Sacrifice of Columbia: Destruction (after Thomas Cole)” (2020), cotton cord, nylon cord, fabric, printed polyester shower curtain, American flag jacket, steel battle rope anchor, steel chain, canvas tarp, acrylic paint drips, and wood armature, 84 x 96 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of Patricia Sweetow Gallery

Left: “Neon Hymn” (2020), braided cotton cord, paracord, enamel, and oil stick, 80 x 26 x 12 inches. Right: “Scylla III: The Pastoral State (after Thomas Cole)” (2020), cotton cord, nylon cord, paracord, printed cotton towel, steel frame, and volleyball, 27 x 27 x 1.5 inches (frame), 33 x 85 x 9.5 inches (floor extension). Images courtesy of Patricia Sweetow Gallery

“Straight-laced: The Consummation of Empire (after Thomas Cole)” (2020/21), cotton cord, nylon cord, paracord, printed polyester shower curtain, and steel, 96 x 64 x 14 inches. Photo by Ian Vecchiotti

Left: “Purging: Desolation (after Thomas Cole)” (2021), cotton cord, nylon cord, fabric, printed polyester shower curtain, and steel, 86 x 71 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of Patricia Sweetow Gallery. Right: “Untitled II” (2015), braided cotton cord, steel rod, and steel armatures, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell

Detail of “Sacrifice of Columbia: Destruction (after Thomas Cole)” (2020), cotton cord, nylon cord, fabric, printed polyester shower curtain, American flag jacket, steel battle rope anchor, steel chain, canvas tarp, acrylic paint drips, and wood armature, 84 x 96 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of Patricia Sweetow Gallery

“Untitled XII (reflections on the water)” (2020), braided cotton cord, and steel, 60 x 144 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell

 

 



Art Craft Design

Lush Tufted Tapestries Document Ecological Changes in Argentina's Landscapes

March 25, 2021

Anna Marks

All images © Alexandra Kehayoglou, shared with permission

Artist Alexandra Kehayoglou (previously) creates exquisite pieces of flowing textiles that reference the rugged landscapes of her homeland, Argentina. In the creation of each tapestry, Kehayoglou transforms surplus carpet fabric into natural elements that range from a spectrum of Earth-colored mosses to clusters of trees and serpentine rivers that cut through the heart of her weaves. Entwined within each piece are fragments of the artist’s own memories, including witnessing waterways slowly recede and the alterations to Argentina’s grasslands.

Her latest works, a series called Prayer Rugs, depict animal footprints and small vegetative features of the Parana Wetlands located 50 kilometers from Buenos Aires. In recent years, the region’s biodiversity has been decimated by the wood and paper industries, which have facilitated the growth of non-native plant species that have since spread out of control. Additionally, human-made fires wreaked havoc during 2020, while livestock simultaneously trampled the once-luscious grassland.

Kehayoglou’s pieces document the foliage that has survived after years of this widespread exploitation and how, over time, local fauna has started to reappear: thistles grow through cracks in the dry Earth, deer leave mud-splattered tracks, and chirping insects dance upon youthful leaves. The artworks narrate the wetland’s change and growth, reflecting the pain caused by capitalism while turning the need for change into tapestries that reference Argentinians’ hope. Kehayoglou says:

Isolation made me think of my carpets as spaces where new forms of activism could be enacted. A type of activism that instead of focusing on paranoid conflict was silent, absorptive and, as I believe, more effective. My carpets, thus, became instruments for documenting ‘minor’ aspects of the land, which were otherwise overlooked as irrelevant. A focus on its micro-narratives that would open new doors for possible ecological futures.

You can see more of the artist’s rich tapestries on her website and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Colorful Tapestries of Silk, Wool, and Cotton Hand Woven by Judit Just

December 28, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © Judit Just

Spanish artist Judit Just of jujujust (previously) crafts vibrant wall tapestries in improvised compositions using traditional and updated weaving techniques. Satin ribbons, viscose fringe tassels, silk threads, cord, and soft wool form unique color, texture, and shape combinations. While each piece is modeled after an original stored in the artist’s studio, the handmade nature of the process ensures that no two tapestries are the same.

These vertical works are hung from wooden dowels that are hand-painted to complement the neon colored textiles. Sizes vary, with some pieces measuring 25 x 25 inches and others stretching more than 3 feet. To witness Just’s weaving and cutting processes, follow her on Instagram. You can also add one of the wall tapestries to your personal collection by placing an order via the artist’s Etsy shop.