Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Youthful Indiscretions…

lifestudydetailSome of you have heard the story of how one of my tapestries went missing from an exhibit. This was in about 1980, and the exhibit was in the galleries at the Durham Arts Council in Durham, NC. I also had a studio space in that building. (Looking at their website now, I see it’s the same building, but it was renovated in 1988…not a moment too soon; my studio was on the ground floor and sometimes when it rained, water came through the 2 stories above me, right through the light fixture, and filled up the empty jars holding my paintbrushes!)

LifeStudy I was really upset about the tapestry being stolen, because I had finished it just in time for the exhibit, and entered it without taking any photos.

A few weeks later I saw something strange poking out from a large potted plant, and it was my tapestry. Someone had slid it off the tacky dowel it was hanging on (this was before I had a clue about velcro and all that), folded it up, and stuck it in the pot.

At the time I assumed it was a thief who intended to steal it and then chickened out.

It was only many years later, after taking a library school course on Intellectual Freedom and Censorship, that it occurred to me, this may have been an act of censorship rather than a botched theft. For reasons that are unfathomable to me, some people are offended by images of the human body, even when highly abstracted. Lucky for them they don’t live in Florence where they would be having the heebie-jeebies daily!

 lifestudyderail2At the time that I wove this, I was weaving mostly functional items and had very little tapestry experience.  The weft is a combination of strange rayon-ish synthetic yarns, with a border of a shiny black chenille, and the warp is 12 ply cotton tobacco twine, set very coarsely, maybe 4 epi. Hey, it was what I had, and I was a poor starving student married to a poor starving student.

The title is Life Study. It’s about 30 x 18 inches. I wince at the messy fringes top and bottom and the cheesy dowel.

lifestudyinterlockThe interlocks are VERY messy, but I still like the design.  It’s a holdover from my high school days when I painted many posters of abstracted nudes, and my family would play “Find the body.”

I was not trying to be mysterious, I just thought it was fun to look at the shapes of positive and negative spaces (although I had never heard those terms used).

I ran across this tapestry in my attic recently, and decided to write about it since I have had NO time to weave anything new this summer. Hopefully that will soon change.