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Multi-Venue Exhibition Honors Legendary Fiber Artist Lenore Tawney H'92 (1907–2007), This Winter

Highlights Include Key Works, Studio Materials Never Before Displayed to the Public

Posted 11.02.12 by mica communications

Lenore Tawney with "The Crossing," 1998, courtesy Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, photo: George Erml.

BALTIMORE - From Friday, Dec. 7 to Sunday, March 17, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) will honor Lenore Tawney H'92 (1907-2007), a leading figure in the contemporary fiber arts movement, in the multi-venue exhibition, Lenore Tawney: Wholly Unlooked For. Coordinated in conjunction with the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, two art and design colleges will display complementary aspects of Tawney's work this winter: MICA will present her line-based objects while University of the Arts in Philadelphia will highlight her paper-focused pieces.

The MICA exhibition, co-curated by fiber chair Piper Shepard and faculty member Susie Brandt, will feature approximately 30 drawings, weavings, sculptures and installations produced throughout Tawney's career, while the University of the Arts exhibition will highlight Tawney's collages, drawings, books and postcards. "By presenting parallel exhibitions at MICA and the University of the Arts, each with an emphasis on different aspects of Lenore Tawney's work, we can focus on her expansive practice," Shepard said.

MICA will exemplify the range of Tawney's loom explorations through nine weavings. The earliest example, from the 1950s, followed traditional tapestry techniques. However, two weavings on display from later that decade reveal how her work shifted from densely woven works to light gossamer constructions, in which she began "drawing" with threads on the loom and moved away from figurative imagery to abstraction. In the 1960s, she began a groundbreaking body of work she called "woven forms," which involved manipulating the loom as never seen before in the modern era and established her as a pioneer in exploring new approaches to fiber art.

Making its first public showing in more than 20 years, another exhibition highlight will be Tawney's Scripture in Stone, installed in Brown Center's Leidy Atrium. The use of black canvas and linen threads sets this 14-foot square piece apart from other works in Tawney's Cloud Sculpture series of hanging works, each comprising thousands of individually knotted threads. With Scripture in Stone, Tawney plays on her favorite "circle in the square" theme, seen throughout the exhibition, on an architectural scale.

Tawney made discoveries through her work by engaging in immersive processes, such as weaving, writing, knotting and collaging. Her life and work involved acts of gathering, sorting, building up and paring down of materials. Lenore Tawney: Wholly Unlooked For will provide the first public showing of studio materials and personal belongings inspiring the artist. Both exhibition locations will offer a glimpse into the artist's daily life and work by showcasing items, such as studio collections, handmade garments and photographs.

"To be an artist, you must be brave," Tawney said at MICA's 1992 Commencement ceremony during which she received an honorary degree. "You can't let yourself be scared by a blank sheet of drawing paper or a white canvas. But what you put on that paper or canvas must come from your deepest self, from a place you do not even know."

MICA's long relationship with Tawney began when she received the honorary degree and presented a solo exhibition at the College, both in 1992. "During this relationship, we developed a great appreciation for her art, her spirit and her approach to artmaking," MICA President Fred Lazarus IV said. "After her death, we have been delighted to continue working with the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation to not only carry on her legacy, but to inspire young fiber artists with her processes and perspectives as an artist. This exhibition is a key component of that partnership." The Lenore G. Tawney Foundation created a scholarship for MICA fiber students in 2006.

Lenore Tawney's Biography
Born in Ohio, Tawney was an American artist whose pioneering work revolutionized fiber arts and who became well known for her collage and assemblage work. Tawney attended the Institute of Design, Chicago, where she studied with Hungarian painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy and Ukrainian-American Cubist/constructivist sculptor Alexander Archipenko. She later studied tapestry with Finnish weaver Martta Taipale at Penland School of Crafts, N.C. In 1957, she moved to New York and established her first studio at Coenties Slip. The community of artists she was among there in her early years included Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, Jack Youngerman and Ellsworth Kelly.

Tawney's work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design, all in New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Montréal; the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among other museums, universities and private collections.

Accompanying Exhibitions at MICA
Two consecutive solo shows, both entitled Keeping On, will highlight the works of contemporary fiber artists Sandra Brownlee and Rowland Ricketts. These exhibitions, taking place Friday, Dec. 7-Sunday, Feb. 10 and Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, March 17 respectively, not only look at two subsequent generations of weavers but provide an intimate look into each artist's practice and experimentation with ancient processes. "We're thrilled to be able to expose our students and the public to three different generations of artists who use historical fiber processes to make contemporary work," Brandt said.

Additionally, students in Brandt's Accumulation and Metaphor class will exhibit their works crafted out of Tawney's studio materials donated by the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation in a show entitled Accumulation and Metaphor: To/From Tawney from Wednesday, Dec. 5-Thursday, Dec. 13. There will be an opening reception Tuesday, Dec.4 from 3-5 p.m.

Panel Discussion: Innovating Fiber
Friday, Feb. 22, noon
Graduate Studio Center: Auditorium, 131 W. North Ave., free
Fiber faculty members Piper Shepard and Annet Couwenberg-along with panel members including Philadelphia-based artist Kelly Cobb '93, New York-based artist Françoise Grossen and Owyn Ruck, manager and co-founder of New York City's Textile Arts Center-discuss the role innovation plays in working with ancient fiber processes. The panel is sponsored by the Department of Exhibitions and Fiber Department.

Exhibition Schedule
Lenore Tawney: Wholly Unlooked For
Friday, Dec. 7-Sunday, March 17
MICA's Fox Building: Decker Gallery, 1303 W. Mount Royal Ave.; Brown Center: Leidy Atrium, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.
Reception: Friday, Dec. 7, 5-7 p.m.

Lenore Tawney: Wholly Unlooked For
Thursday, Jan. 17-Saturday, March 2
University of the Arts: Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, 333 S. Broad St., Philadelphia (mailing address: 320 S. Broad St.)

Sandra Brownlee: Keeping On
Friday, Dec. 7-Sunday, Feb. 10
MICA's Fox Building: Meyerhoff Gallery, 1303 W. Mount Royal Ave.
Gallery Talk: Friday, Dec. 7, 4 p.m.
Reception: Friday, Dec. 7, 5-7 p.m.

Rowland Ricketts: Keeping On
Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, March 17
MICA's Fox Building: Meyerhoff Gallery, 1303 W. Mount Royal Ave.
Gallery Talk: Friday, Feb. 15, 4 p.m.
Reception: Friday, Feb. 15, 5-7 p.m.

Accumulation and Metaphor: To/From Tawney
Wednesday, Dec. 5-Thursday, Dec. 13
MICA's Mount Royal Station: Middendorf Gallery, 1400 Cathedral St.
Reception: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 3-5 p.m.


Exhibition Catalog
A catalog, featuring new essays by T'ai Smith of University of British Columbia and Sid Sachs and Warren Seelig both of University of the Arts, is planned.

Visitor Information
Hours for MICA's galleries, which are free and open to the public, are Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays, noon-5 p.m. For details about the University of the Arts exhibition and visitor information, visit uarts.edu.


MICA's exhibitions and public programs receive generous support from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive.




Image caption: Lenore Tawney with The Crossing, 1998, courtesy Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, photo: George Erml.

The University of the Arts (www.uarts.edu) is one of the only universities in the United States dedicated solely to educating creative individuals in the visual and performing arts and design. Its more than 2,100 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in six fields of study - Visual Arts, Design, Film, Music, Dance and Theater - on its campus in the heart of Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. The institution's roots as a leader in educating creative individuals date back to 1868.

The Lenore G. Tawney Foundation was established in 1989 by pioneer fiber artist Lenore Tawney (1907-2007) for charitable and educational purposes. Consistent with the artist's philanthropic interests, the Foundation supports the visual arts with a focus on craft media, including fiber art. Its broad aim is to increase public access to and knowledge about the visual arts and to assist learning opportunities for emerging artists.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 52 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.