In fall of 2006, approximately a year before the artist's death at the age of 100, MICA learned that the internationally renowned fiber artist Lenore Tawney H'92 was making a $25,000 gift to create a scholarship in fiber at the College. According to The Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Ms. Tawney was "pleased with the growth of the fiber department at MI CA in recent years and gratified to think that, through this scholarship support, she will be able to provide assistance to future students." Her last visit to the MI CA campus had been in 1992, to receive an honorary degree and for a solo exhibition of her work.
MICA's chair of fiber, Annet Couwenberg, was delighted at this recognition from the artist who is credited with creating the genre of fiber art, observing, "Lenore Tawney is a legend in the fiber field, and it is an incredible opportunity for our fiber students to be able to receive this scholarship."
Lenore Tawney is known as having redefined the possibilities for sculpture and weaving in the second half of the 20th century, according to Holland Cotter in The New York Times, and for blurring the boundaries between "craft" and "art." He wrote: "In the late 1950s and early 1960s...Ms. Tawney united them decisively and controversially."
Lenore was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1907. In the 1940s she studied art in Chicago with Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and with the modernist sculptor Alexander Archipenko. After studying tapestry in 1954 at the Penland School of Crafts with Finnish weaver Martta Taipale, she began to devote herself entirely to experimentations with weaving. She moved from Chicago to Manhattan in 1957, first to a loft on Coenties Slip, near the South Street Seaport, where her neighbors included Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman, Robert Indiana, and Agnes Martin. Lenore Tawney's monumental works, which she called "woven forms," first gained worldwide attention in a 1963 exhibition at the American Craft Museum. She received a major career retrospective in 1990 at the American Craft Museum, now the Museum of Arts and Design, and her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.