This international,contemporary tapestry touring show is an eye opener to all who believe that TAPESTRY is a thing of the past. Worldwide, the art of tapestry is very much alive.
This touring exhibition is of work from 24 artists from 16 countries.
Read more about The New Art of the Loom.
Public Art Agency Sweden (former The National Public Art Council Sweden) was founded in 1937 and is responsible to the Ministry of Culture.
The general assignment of Public Art Agency Sweden is to make art a natural and prominent feature in the community. The Council strives to create opportunities for contemporary art to impact on the public environment through projects for artistic embellishment and art collections produced for government authorities.
Since 1937, Public Art Agency Sweden, a government organisatin, has enriched the public domain with art and is Sweden’s largest commissioner of artistic embellishment. The Council commissions some 40 professional artists every year to present drafts and implement art projects. Most of these artists live and work in Sweden, but artists in other countries are also employed, thereby enhancing international contacts in the field.
Public Art Agency Sweden also puts together some 100 art collections annually, for various government organisations in Sweden and abroad. These collections reflect artistic production over the past decades and consist of both newly purchased and older works. In many cases, the artistic diversity of these collections makes them both unique and interesting in an art historical perspective.
In addition, as from 2010, Public Art Agency Sweden has been assigned by the government to collaborate with the Swedish National Heritage Board, Arkitekturmuseet and the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, along with relevant local municipalities and property owners, to distribute funding and implement projects for the artistic embellishment of public spaces not owned by the government. The purpose is to improve the quality of buildings and facilities, taking into consideration various perspectives and needs. Public Art Agency Sweden thereby earmarks funds that were previously reserved for art in non-government environments to enhance the overall design of public spaces, such as infrastructure, schools and housing areas. Special consideration will be given to the perspective of children and teenagers.
Information, education and development in the field of public artistic design and embellishment are used by Public Art Agency Sweden to raise awareness of how art contributes to a good social environment. Public Art Agency Sweden supervises the government organisations’ handling of government-owned art that is not maintained by other government organisations. This supervision activity instructs government organisations on procedures regarding the recording, annual inventory and day-to-day care of public art collections. It also advises property owners and other parties on the care and management of building-related art commissioned by Public Art Agency Sweden.
At Public Art Agency Sweden’s Art Lounge visitors can access material by artists applying to the Council for commissions, and also read the Council’s annual catalogues and other publications. This material is intended primarily for Public Art Agency Sweden’s project managers in their search for artists for public commissions, but other parties looking for artists to execute public art assignments, and the general public, are welcome to study the work submitted by the artists. The Art Lounge also has a programme of activities, including seminars and discussions about art in the public sphere.
In 2010, our educational activities around art have included guided tours of public art, workshops at schools, lectures and artist talks. Seminars focusing on art and the public and art in the public sphere have been co-organised with regional and municipal organisations and other government organisations. Other commissioners of public art have also requested information about the working process at Public Art Agency Sweden, including discussions on art styles and the role of art in public spaces. Art education activities are primarily aimed at young people, but also, for instance, at interested staff in workplaces where a new permanent work of art or an art collection has been installed.
In 2010, workshops were held at Ekeskolan in Örebro for three groups of young adults with impaired vision, and for all pupils at Sameskolan in Karesuando (Year F-5). Guided tours and talks about art collections in workplaces have doubled since 2009 and numbered 35 in 2010.
For the third consecutive year, the KOP (Art and Public) network held an international conference, The Art of Having an Audience, at Moderna Museet in Stockholm on 19 – 21 May.
Public Art Agency’s art online
In 2010, Public Art Agency Sweden published an unprecedented amount of text and images relating to art and art projects on the internet, thanks to the integration of the Council’s internal system and a digitalised image archive. Web services such as Google Translate and Google Maps have continued to be useful in providing cost-effective and efficient web solutions. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are changing but are still relevant channels for the Council in our public outreach.
Images, image archives and copyright
Over the last few years, Public Art Agency Sweden’s visual documentation has developed more towards showing the works of art in their setting, together with the people who frequent it. Our analogue image archive was already digitalised, and in 2010 we made it accessible for internal use. In 2011, parts of the archive will be made available online.
Our portfolio presentations started during the Year of Multiculturalism in 2006, and made it possible for professional artists around Sweden to present their work to the Council’s project managers. The purpose of the Portfolio Project is to broaden the recruitment of artists for commissions from the Council. The purpose is also to achieve greater transparency in the Council’s operations by bringing more artists in contact with the Council. In April 2010, a portfolio presentation for artists was organised jointly with Kalmar Konstmuseum. 205 artists applied, and 95 artists from four counties presented their work. The portfolio presentations have led to a more open contact with artists throughout Sweden. 16 artists received new commissions from the Council thanks to the portfolio presentations, and some 30 works were purchased.
TO OUR VISITORS
The Gallery By The River opened in 2002 with the theme of presenting art by European and American artists. The current exhibition “Made In Sweden” is the seventh exhibition featuring artists living and working in Sweden and during this time more than forty Swedish artists have spent at least one year in working and preparing for this invitational event. The current exhibition “Made In Sweden” will be the last in this series and will also mark the closing of The Gallery By The River.
What is not generally known is that The Gallery By The River has established a reputation in Sweden as a welcoming and exciting place for artists to visit and to exhibit their work and each year brings more requests from artists who wish to showcase their work in the US. For many of our visiting artists, the publicity surrounding their exhibition here in Bellevue has resulted in a significant surge of interest in their work.
To all of our visitors I want to say thank you for your great interest and support. To our neighbors who have hosted and entertained the artists who have travelled from Sweden to be here at the opening reception, I wish to say a special word of thanks; without your help and support few of the artists could afford to stay here and enjoy that special day.
To my dear husband a special thanks. I can’t remember how many times he has painted the walls in the gallery so that they are fresh for the new exhibition, hung the artwork under the leadership of his wife, and been up on high ladders to adjust the lighting or changing bulbs; thank you Arthur.
For me, it has been an amazing and inspiring journey with the gallery. The contacts with the new artists must be made at least one year ahead of the opening of the exhibition and the preparations and logistics get underway in January to be ready for the June opening. When all the artwork is finally in place and we are ready to open the doors to our visitors, it is a privilege and great pleasure to be able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful art produced by the men and women of my home country.
The decision to close the gallery has not been easy, but I need more time to pursue my other vocation of designing and weaving large scale tapestries. As to the future I am hoping to always have new and exciting tapestries on the studio walls and something interesting in progress on the large loom with which to welcome visitors year-around by appointment.
The Traditions of Swedish Hand-Woven Tapestry
Sweden has one of the longest unbroken and richly indigenous tapestry weave traditions in Europe. Hand weaving in Sweden, although having to struggle along with much of the rest of Europe, against competition from industrial looms, was always seen as part of the rich rural heritage of Sweden. It was particularly favoured for domestic use and young girls were taught from an early age to be proficient in the craft.
With the founding of the Handarbetets Vanner, or Friends of Handicraft in 1874 by Sophie Adlersparre, Molly Rohtlieb, and Hanna Mathilda Winge, three Swedish women who did much to integrate the old traditions of Swedish hand weaving and tapestry into the burgeoning interest shown largely by urban dwellers in fast disappearing rural crafts, through the Arts and Crafts movement.
It was seen by many that if a number of the traditional crafts were not encouraged, they would be lost forever. This was often problematic as many rural workers were drifting towards urban centres across Europe, as cities became a magnet for the ambitions of rural populations who were often disinclined to take up the labour intensive and badly paid traditional craft skills. Sweden, in the respect of rural crafts, was luckier than some of the more populous and intensely industrial countries in Western Europe. By the end of the nineteenth century, Sweden still had a relatively large rural community with few big industrial towns. However, it was still seen that the rural traditions that the Arts and Crafts movement supported and felt were vital to the integrity and future of the various different indigenous cultures of Europe, needed particular support and encouragement.
It is the interest in both the traditions of Sweden and its rural culture, but also that of the weaving tradition itself, which has kept hand weaving alive within Sweden. This has allowed a whole raft of individuals from professionals who used both hand and industrial weaving techniques, to the strictly hand weaving of the amateur. All have helped to produce and inspire work that has continued that tradition across the twentieth and into the twenty first century.
The Burrell Collection Tapestries Project
Assistant Textile Conservator
On Monday 26th April, eight members of the tapestry Project visited Stirling Castle to see the Stirling Palace Tapestries. This is a unique project, launched in 2001 by Historic Scotland in partnership with the Quinque Foundation in the United States, to recreate a series of 7 medieval tapestries depicting the story of the Hunt of the Unicorn. The originals are held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the completed set of replicas will hang in the future presentation of the Queen’s Inner Hall. They are being woven by the renowned West Dean Tapestry Studio both at Stirling castle and at West Dean in the south of England.
Louise Martin, Head Weaver at Stirling Castle, first showed us the 4 completed tapestries currently hanging in the chapel. We were all completely taken aback at the first sight of them – the vibrancy of the colours, the clarity of the design and the subtlety of the detail were all hugely impressive. I think the impression had all the more impact as the team have spent the last 18 months photographing, assessing and handling historic tapestries and have become very familiar with the colour palette, texture, condition and fragility they present.
For me one of the most interesting aspects of The Stirling Palace Tapestries is the juxtaposition of the medieval, in terms of the image, and the contemporary, in terms of the colours and the condition. It was thought provoking on many levels and part of what makes it such an interesting project. Louise explained some of the background to the project, the reasons for the choice of the tapestry, and some of the many the challenges this unique project to contemporary weavers.
We then walked down to the purpose-built temporary studio in the Nether Bailey. Here, Louise explained in detail the process by which the original set are copied, the colours matched and the designs drawn up. Weaver Rudi Richardson, who was trying to do some work until we arrived, explained the practicalities and logistics of the weaving process and of working as part of a team. We pored over the woven samples, relishing the opportunity to discuss in detail techniques and effects we have seen in the Burrell Collection tapestries. It was both fascinating and hugely beneficial to our understanding of the techniques of construction to actually see the weaving in progress and talk in depth to the practitioners – we all had so many questions it must have been exhausting!
Louise and Rudi were so generous with their time and knowledge that the trip was a great success. I think each member of the team came away with something different from the experience but am sure that it has added a dimension to all of our knowledge and understanding of tapestries.
I wish we had gone sooner!
More about the Stirling Tapestries project, and the Palace Project as a whole can be found on the Stirling Castle website: www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk
•Out of Tradition: Contemporary Decorative and Applied Arts
April 28 – September 30, 2013. Opening April 27th 7-9 pm.
(New York City, USA) The Ukrainian Museum in New York City, at 222 East 6th Street (bet. 2nd and 3rd Aves.) is pleased to invite you to a group exhibit, in which Lialia Kuchma is exhibiting tapestries. The exhibition features the work of 35 contemporary decorative artists of Ukrainian background from Ukraine, the United States, and Canada. The aim of the exhibition is to showcase works from the innovative realm of contemporary art and design that are rooted in the tradition and aesthetic of Ukrainian folk art. Ceramics, jewelry, textiles, high-fashion clothing and accessories, and decorative items crafted from wood, glass, and silver are among the more than 150 objects in this major exhibition. Out of Tradition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an introduction by Jaroslaw Leshko, Professor Emeritus of Art, Smith College, and an essay written by Tamila Pecheniuk and Halyna Kusko, art historians and docents in the Art Textiles Department at the Lviv National Academy of Art.
•New Art of the Loom
April 2013 – January 2015. Opening May 20th,2013.
(Various locations) Tapestries from 24 artists from 15 countries.
Lafayette, LA – Museum of the University of Louisiana; Galerie Montcalm, Maison du Citoyen, City of Gatineau during “Textile Triennial 2013″ (August 29-October 6, 2013 ); Montreal – Musee des Maitres et Artisans du Quebec (Oct-Dec 2013 ); Fairfax, VA – George Mason University (Jan- March 2014) Ocala, FL – The Appleton Museum (April-July 2014); Louisville, KY – The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (Oct-Dec.2014).
This unique, international show has been initiated, organized and curated by Dirk Holger, Atelier Jean Lurcat. His publication, “To weave or not to weave: a basic tapestry book for the lay person,” (Schiffer Books) will accompany the show. A 16 page free brochure will also be produced as an introduction to the touring exhibition. Exact exhibition dates will be announced when finalized.
•the 14th International Triennial of Tapestry
May 6 – November 3 ,2013. Opening May 6, 2013, 1 p.m.
(Łódź, Poland) This edition features 667 artists from all over the world, who in 27 cities present their work in 52 solo exhibitions, 33 group exhibits and 3 plein-airs. List of names here. The prestigious Triennial itself contains 132 artists from 52 countries at Central Museum of Textiles, Łódź, Piotrkowska 282. Calendar and press release.
•Small Expressions 2013
June 1 – September 7, 2013. Reception June 1, 2013, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Kavanagh Gallery, with a gallery talk by Laura Foster Nicholson at 7:00 p.m.
(St. Charles, Illinois) Small Expressions 2013 will be held at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center. HGA’s annual exhibit of small format work, includes pieces by six ATA members: Sandra Kennard, Tori Kleinert, Joyce Marlow, Jane Marie, Michael Rohde, and Vladmira Wackenreuther, among 31 artists selected from more than 200 entries.
•Journeys in Woven Color
July 2 – August 18. Opening Friday July 5, 5:30-7:30.
(Charlottesville, VA) Klaus Anselm and Joan Griffin will be exhibiting “Journeys in Woven Color” at the Smith Gallery at the McGuffey Art Center www.mcguffeyartcenter.com. Tapestry weaving demonstration and gallery talk: July 16 11am-2-pm. Gallery hours Tues-Sat 10-6 and Sunday 1-5.
•Integrated Circuits & Other Connections
July 4 – August 15, 2013. Opening reception: Thursday July 4th, 6 – 8 pm.
In her new exhibition, INTEGRATED CIRCUITS, internationally celebrated Vancouver-born tapestry artist, Barbara Heller, is crossing boundaries into mixed media. She is currently combining shaped tapestry, digitally printed fabric, embroidery and found objects.
Heller is intrigued by the beauty of the component parts and calls them “our worshiped electronics, the sacred bones of the computer.” She further explains, “I want to integrate the electronics with the weaving and with the human hand – an almost bionic melding. I think of these electronics as adding another layer of meaning. I want the sewn-on materials to carry their histories, to enhance the tapestry’s meaning and subtext.” In doing so, Heller invites us to re-think ourselves not only in art but also in social and environmental justice. Heller’s work can be viewed on the CCBC website.
Curated by Maggie Tchir.
Craft Council of BC Gallery
1386 Cartwright Street
Granville Island, Vancouver, BC Canada
email email@example.com web www.craftcouncilbc.ca
•Color + Local
August 2 – September 2, 2013.
Exhibition of Donna Foley’s latest tapestries featuring natural dyed yarns at the Adirondack Artists’ Guild Art Gallery in Saranac Lake, NY. For more info visit an Adirondack Farm & Weaving Studio ‘Four Directions Weaving’. 52 Mine Street, Saranac Lake, NY 12983 USA. Tel.: 518-891-2615.
•The 2013 International Triennial of Textile Arts in the Outaouais: “Matrices”
August 31- September 29, 2013. Vernissage at Moon Rain Centre, August 31 3:00 – 7:00 pm.
The highlight of this edition is the outdoor laboratory at Moon Rain Centre that brings together 26 international, professional and emerging textile artists in the creation of 13 in situ textile art installations exploring the theme matrices, integrated into the natural environment.
In partnership with exhibition centres across the Outaouais region, Moon Rain Centre presents a spectrum of textile arts exhibitions & conferences. Throughout the International Triennial of Textile Arts in the Outaouais, Moon Rain Centre offers collaborative public art projects as well as workshops taught by renowned international textile artists.
Highlights of the Tapestry Exhibits include: Inner Vision, Homage to Micheline Beauchemin – Quebec’s Master Weaver, Archie Brennan & Susan Martin – Maffei Dersu Uzala & the NY Times, The New art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestries as listed below, for more delights check here: http://moonrain.ca/Triennale.html.
August 13 to October 12, 2013. Vernissage on Tuesday, August 27 from 7 to 9pm, with a short conference by the artist.
(Almonte, Ontario) Maximo Laura is considered a living national treasure in Peru. His radiantly colourful works depict Peruvian legends and explore his personal inner vision of the ancient mysticism of his people.
Mississippi Valley Textile Museum
3 Rosamond Street East
Almonte, Ontario K0A 1A0. Canada
•Homage to Micheline Beauchemin, Quebec’s Master Weaver
August 21 to October 13, 2013. Vernissage on Wednesday, August 21 from 6 to 8pm.
(Ottawa, Canada) Textile artist, equally accomplished with wool, metal or optic fiber, Micheline Beauchemin has produced a dazzling body of work that confounds our understanding of tapestry, sculpture and textile installations. Her extraordinary pieces grace monumental architecture the world over, for example the curtain of the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Canada. Micheline Beauchemin (1929-2009).
120, Rte. Principale
Gatineau, Quebec, J9H 3M3 Canada
•Archie Brennan & Susan Martin – Maffei Dersu Uzala & the NY Times
August 23 to September 22, 2013. Vernissage on Sunday, August 25 from 1 to 3pm, with a short conference by the artists.
(Orleans, ON) These legendary tapestry artists will exhibit the Dersu Uzala Series and the New York Times Series.
Ottawa School of Art
Orleans Campus Gallery, Shenkman Arts Centre
245 Centrum BLVD
Orleans, ON K1E 0A1 Canada
•The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestries
August 29 to October 6, 2013. Vernissage on Thursday, August 29 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
(Gatineau, Quebec) New Art of the Loom reveals the dreams of contemporary weavers from more than fifteen countries, combining ancient techniques with emerging new forms of artistic expression. From cardboard to loom, head to weft, patience to passion, these artists express their creative vision and invite you to discover its multiple dimensions.
Artists – Christine Altona, Malgorzata Buczek, Thomas Cronenberg, Thoma Ewen, Susan Hart Henegar, Ibolya Hegyi, Barbara Heller, Dirk Holger, Peter Horn, Susan Iverson, William Kentridge, Lialia Kuchma, Ulrika Leander, Lin Lecheng, Jean Lurçat, Susan Maffei, Ann Naustdal, Norgaad, Lorna Ramlochansingh, Jon-Eric Riis, Henrique Schucman, Bum Soo Song, Miyuki Tatsumi, Henriette Zegersten Hom. Curated by Dirk Holger.
25 Rue Laurier, Maison du Citoyen 1st floor,
Gatineau Quebec, J8X 4C8 Canada
•A Sensitive Art
6th September – 30th November 2013
A Sensitive Art is the latest exhibition by the British Tapestry Group featuring a wide range of contemporary woven tapestry interpreting the theme of touch and texture.
The Quilt Museum
York, YO1 7PW,
•Threads of Life
September 14, 2013 – January 12,2014.
(Asheville, North Carolina) An exhibit of 4” x 4” tapestries woven by the members of Tapestry Weavers South will be at the Folk Art Center. The exhibit is designed to demonstrate the diversity of talent among the group’s members. www.southernhighlandguild.org
November 6, 2013 – January 19, 2014. November 10: Members Walk-through 1-2 pm & Opening Reception 2-4 pm.
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is pleased to present the 21st triennial juried exhibition, Fiberart International 2013, the foremost exhibit for textile artists worldwide. This is the West Coast premiere of this prestigious exhibition. Sponsored by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, this internationally renowned exhibition is considered the premier platform and benchmark for the latest movements and innovations in the ever-evolving field of fiber art. Pushing the boundaries of fiber art, the exhibit showcases works that are both conceptually groundbreaking and visually stunning. The show features 40 works from a diverse group of 37 national and international artists, both acclaimed and emerging, and explores a wide spectrum of textile practices.
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
520 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113 USA
•Despierto Despierto – Awake, Wide Awake
November 21, 2013 – March 15, 2014. The work of Patricia Dunn will hang in a solo exhibit at the Museo Zacatecano, Zacatecas, Mexico. New, recent and retrospective tapestries, copper wire and silk yarn sculptures as well as an installation of suspended sculptures and painted tabachin seed pads. Inspired by a poem of Antonio Machado, the show and the installation are titled: “Despierto Despierto” / “Awake, Wide Awake”. The Museo Zacatecano is in the recently renovated colonial mint, Casa de Moneda, which has dedicated space for temporary exhibits. A catalog is being published. Patricia’s work is presently in the Galerías Irma Valerio, Zacatecas, Mexico. www.patriciadunntapestries.com
The New Art of the Loom 2013 – 2015
The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary international Tapestries 2013-2015
The exhibition opens at the Hilliard University Art Museum, Louisiana, USA
June 1st and lasts until August 3rd 2013
Ann Naustdal is participating in the travel show.
The New Art of the Loom: Contemporary International Tapestries, a traveling exhibit with 25 tapestry artists from 17 countries. The exhibition will be shown in the USA and Canada from 2013 – 2015. Dirk Holger is the curator, exhibition coordinator and author of the book ” The New Art of the Loom ” Schiffer Books, Pennsylvania to be published in 2013. the book will be available at the exhibition venues.
First venue:June 1st – August 3rd 2013
Hilliard University Art Museum
University of Louisiana
Lafayette, LA 70503.
Hilliard University Art Museum: http://museum.louisiana.edu/exhibitions
City Gallery of Gatineau, Ottawa, Canada August 29th – October 6th 2013
Musee des Artisanats de Quebec, Montreal, Canada October – December 2013
Museum of Loveland, Colorado January -March 2014
The Appleton Museum, Ocala, Florida April – July 2014
Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts August-October 2014
The Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, Louisville, Kentucky November 2014 – January 2015
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia March-April 2015
DREAM WEAVER THE TAPESTRIES OF ULRIKA LEANDER
By Amy Abrams
Dreams Come True for Talented Swedish Tapestry Artist Living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore
While growing up as a girl in Sweden, Ulrika Leander’s parents often fretted about how their dear daughter would support herself if she became (gasp!) an artist, her intended career. Clever parents that they were, they whisked her away to language school in Switzerland—for which she showed zero inclination, then nursing school—until she flunked out, due to dire lack of interest. Finally succumbing to their daughter’s wishes, as well as wooed by her exhibited talents (tapestries woven on wooden looms with boldly colored threads), Leander’s parents set her free to realize her dreams. She relocated roughly six hours north of her family’s rural home to attend art school in Stockholm, the country’s capital and cultural center.
Ultimately, Leander would obtain a master’s degree in Fiber Art and Design, then establish and direct the Fiber Arts Department at a prominent Stockholm university. Today, her large-scale tapestries, created from watercolors of her own designs and then carefully crafted on a mammoth loom in her Royal Oak art studio on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, are in the collections of major corporations and hospitals worldwide, as well as grace the walls of some of the grandest homes across the globe.
Leander, like most tapestry weavers, loves solitude and possesses the patience of saints. Large-scale tapestry-making is an extremely laborious process. Picture it: one thread at a time, hand-woven through a large loom where hundreds of vertical threads have been strung. To achieve the final product, her initial watercolor design is enlarged and then set behind the vertical threads, so she can follow the often-intricate patterns by weaving varied colored yarns. Leander has created tapestries as large as 32-feet wide, taking over a year to complete. In our faster-is-better, highly technological world, this is a refreshing and welcome return to the slower pace of pre-industrial society, where craft was honored, and even considered noble.
Leander describes her day-to-day (often six hours at the loom) as a kind of meditation. Quiet, serenity and peace are prerequisites for a successful outcome. Even music is a distraction. Even her two cats in the studio are a no-no. As she approaches new areas of her design, she’ll tell you, “High concentration is required.” New challenges, and therefore new resolutions, continually present themselves in her tapestries. Overcoming these obstacles has developed her sophisticated command of color and strong sense of composition, elevating her tapestries, considered by some as craft, into masterful works of art. While working from original designs, she appropriates the paintings of some of her “artist heroes,” including Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Victor Vasarely and Claude Monet. Leander portrays, on occasion, a childlike simplicity in her drawings, a “naive” approach (as it’s coined in art world terminology), adding a freshness and liveliness to her tapestries.
Leander shares that her primary intent is making joyous images. “Why would an artist make something depressing?” she asks. “I want the viewer to be happy. I want the work to be easily understood. The work should be uplifting.”
Commissions from houses of worship are common, and Leander’s tapestries decorate walls of churches and chapels throughout Europe and America. Abstractions of soaring birds, seascapes and skyscapes, and of course, religious figures, are well-suited designs for these sacred, vaulted interiors. Geometric patterns depicting cascading light created from carefully woven wools often represent the divine, such as in a pastel-hued tapestry for Seacoast Community Church, in Encinitas, Calif., and in the more boldly-colored “Mary’s Gift” for St. Joseph Catholic Church in Downingtown, Pa.
Narrative designs are frequent requests from business owners and private clients, who aim to document and celebrate personal and professional achievements in commissions such as “GROCO,” a tapestry Leander created for an Eastern Shore manufacturer of marine, industrial and automotive hardware, depicting three generations of family ownership in the almost 10-foot woven mural. In another narrative tapestry, Leander depicts the successful career of William B. Bryant, the first African-American chief judge in DC’s federal court that hangs in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia, in Washington, DC. Many offices, hospitals, churches and homes rely on the large woven works to absorb distracting echoes and improve the acoustics of their spaces, a common function of large tapestries throughout history.
Occasionally, Leander designs a tapestry inspired by personal narrative, such as “Ingrid and Gey,” which includes Matisse-like figures, as well as abstracted forms, representing chromosomes and DNA, to mark the finding of her biological family. Adopted soon after birth, it was decades later that Leander met genetic family members, including a brother who, unbeknownst to her, also became a successful tapestry designer and weaver. Other popular motifs in her tapestries, primarily trees and flowers, are a response to “the sheer beauty of nature that surrounds me here in the United States,” she shares.
Leander followed her husband’s career from Stockholm to Florida in 1980, and then to Tennessee. After his untimely death, and a subsequent remarriage, she and her husband purchased an old post office and general store, circa 1896, in Royal Oak, just around the bend from the Belleview, Md. ferry, which takes cars and passengers to nearby Oxford, across the Tred Avon River. The couple transformed the 2,000-square-foot space into their home, her weaving studio and a successful gallery, The Gallery By The River, showcasing her award-winning tapestries, as well as presenting the artwork of other Swedish artists. Leander’s large vertical loom – often featuring a tapestry in process—is always a crowd-pleaser.
From November through March, the artist’s tapestries are on display. Sculpture and multi-media works of other Swedish artists are exhibited from June through October. Making regular pilgrimages to Sweden to visit the studios of emerging and mid-career artists, Leander and her husband bring the artwork of some of Sweden’s finest to a new audience in America and have developed a devoted client base on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as well as a growing base of browsers and buyers from Washington, DC and Baltimore. With formal studies in craft and interior design, in addition to her education in fiber arts, Leander often assists galley-goers with the right selections for their homes and offices.
Sweden has one of the longest, continuous and richly-indigenous tapestry weave traditions in Europe, and Leander grew up with textile art as a daily part of her life—with folkloric tapestries in her own home and most homes she visited. However, centuries ago, tapestry was an art of extravagance, a symbol of prosperity and elegance, filling the treasure chambers and courts of Europe and Asia. Dirk Holger, a noted author on the subject, museum curator and tapestry weaver, explains, “While tapestry became the most popular art form in the Renaissance, by the Baroque era, an insistence on too much detail in design led to its decline. After 1900, especially in the 1930s and 40s, a revival of contemporary tapestry was fueled by Jean Lurçat, a prominent French weaver.”
“The New Art of the Loom,” an eight-city traveling exhibition throughout America and Canada curated by Holger, includes a major work by Leander. “Midsummer” is an abstract landscape celebrating the summer season and the sun. Leander feels honored to be included in this prestigious show that features only 24 artists from 16 countries, displaying the most renowned contemporary tapestry weavers in the world.
Leander’s “Our Bounty, Our Duty,” designed and created for The College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, Tenn., is featured in the exhibition’s recently published companion book. Leander’s father was a veterinarian and the displayed tapestry’s design, illustrating animals, was inspired by memories of her childhood when she accompanied him to administer cures for animals on nearby farms. On these excursions, the growing girl developed an early affinity for nature and animals, often represented in her work.
Leander shares that the picturesque shoreline near her home reminds her of Swedish towns. “I love living on the Eastern Shore,” she says. “I feel right at home.”