Interwoven globe details

The show at the MMA opened this week.

Even after working for several years on the show, along with my colleagues, Amelia Peck, Melinda Watt, Joyce Denney, John Guy, Kristen Stewart and Amy Bogansky, the pieces are still amazing to see. Especially in details

Chachapoyas (Peru) Lenten curtain AMNH NY

Chachapoyas (Peru) Lenten curtain AMNH NY. Photo: E. Phipps

The details tell the story….  Looking at surfaces– the coarse handspun cotton of highland northern Peruvian Lenten curtain or the fine Indian cotton ground cloth for the religious hanging.

DetailL: Indian dye painted religious hanging

Detail: Indian dye painted religious hanging. MMA. Photo: E. Phipps

Embroidery– Chinese for export to Portugal and the West and Indian both for national and international markets– expound in colors and lines.

Detail Indian Embroidered Hanging MFA Boston

Detail Indian Embroidered Hanging MFA Boston. Photo: E. Phipps

Chinese for Export embroidery. Detail

Chinese for Export embroidery. Detail. Photo: E. Phipps.

"Africa" embroidered hanging-- from Peru? Private Col

“Africa” embroidered hanging– from Peru? Private Col. Photo: E. Phipps

The Mexican embroiderers mimicking the European tapestries– but with thousands of stitches, like the pure white embroidered ground  cloth for the armorial hanging  on one hand, and yet the refined stitching of the silk ikat rebozo figures, whose garments are embroidered with woven patterns.

Detail Mexican embroidered hanging San Antonio Museum of Art

Detail Mexican embroidered hanging San Antonio Museum of Art. Photo: E. Phipps

Detail Mexian Embroidered Rebozo MFA Philadelphia

Detail Mexican Embroidered Rebozo MFA Philadelphia. Photo: E. Phipps

Lots to say and lots to see..   lots is in the catalogue… and so much more to learn.


Close to Home

Sometimes you do not need to go far from home to see beauty and be inspired… especially in New York. though you find it in odd places..

here by the seaport.. there are still works I think are among the most powerful of ‘fiber art’– that function yet have grace and beauty, visual impact that leads the imagination .


Rigging on the Wavertree. Spliced strength.

Rigging on the Wavertree. Spliced strength.

n daylight its just synthetic rope but in the shadows takes on another quality.

n daylight its just synthetic rope but in the shadows takes on another quality.

majesty of line and form.

majesty of line and form.


Threads in Chelsea

Last night I attended the opening in Chelsea of a very intriguing show.  Curated by Terry Winters, a New York painter, the show is called Roving Signs.  It could also have been titled Roving Lines or even String Theory—as the show brings together a disparate yet interestingly related groups of artists and their work that touch on the pathways—of lines, music, color, narrative.

Fig. 1.Harry Smith String figures

A large group of string figures, constructed from cotton string by Harry Smith (1923-1991) aligned along a long wall in the whitebox gallery of Mathew Marks (located in a space at 522 W 22nd St. On view July 12- Aug 16, 2013) stand as reference to the physical act. Finger-manipulating loop into loop to create abstracted discrete figures like drawing or performance art—here, one after the other each frozen in time appear as a moment, an unrecognizable yet familiar image, at the same time.

Fig 2+3 Harry Smith Fig IMG_1547

These simple esoteric objects are juxtaposed to another abstracted vision– of quilts by Rosie Lee Tomkins (1936-2006) a quilter from Arkansas known for her freehand eye-dazzling masterpieces.

Fig. 4      Rosie Lee Tompkins 1 The velvet one adds depth to the experience, with its animal-pelt like presence, creating a powerful visual and tactile aura. Fig. 5   Rosie Lee Tomkins velet

The set of surprising works (at least surprising to me) by Anni Albers: lithographs of lines and  masses—

These tracings of imagined threads, interlacing like a woven sequence yet abstracted as three-dimensional masses create a conceptual dilemma as they collapse movement and physicality.  They seem more poetic than the loom-woven textiles we normally associate with her work and appear like engraved markings on stone—remnants of some ancient system.

Fig. 6IMG_1564

Fig. 7Annie Albers

Moving from the physical to metaphysical the wonderful abstracted video  by Nancy Dols of the hand of a master fiddler—Tommy Jarrell–tracing the pathway of his bow arm as he plays….

Fig. 8Tommy Jarrell

Hard to capture from the video, but imagine the line forming, weaving back and forth as the musician creates his magical and soleful tones.

And while other works in the exhibition include pieces by Donald Judd, Colin Nancarrow and The Center for Land Use Interpretation, a favorite of mine was the set of photos by John Cohen.  A man of many talents, known for his music and photography, his photos of weavers and spinners in Peru form the 1950s and 60s are unsurpassed in their ability to render not only amazing details of technical and anthropological interest, but also to the moments where the threads and life intersect.

His photo of the blessing of the warp is one.

Fig. 9IMG_1557

Please forgive my lousy photographs: go see the show. It makes you think about textiles and their essence and meaning in an entirely different context.


Fig. 1    Harry Smith  String Figures

Fig 2+ 3  Harry Smith String Figures

Fig 4  Rosie Lee Tomkins  Quilt

Fig 5 Rosie Lee Tomkins Quilt

Fig. 6 Annie Albers Line Involvement VI , 1964 Lithograph

Fig. 7 Annie Albers detail from a Line Involvement series 1964 Lithograph

Fig. 8 Tommy Jarrell from Nancy Dols video

Fig. 9.  John Cohen, Blessing the Warp photograph