Beyond the Loom

Jenamarie Boots Exhibitions

Shield IV by Lenore Tawney (1907–2007), 1966. Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York; photograph by Rich Maciejewski.

Lenore Tawney was a textile artist celebrated for her sculptural weavings. In the exhibition series Mirror of the Universe at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, her floor-to-ceiling fiber installations are on display alongside more intimately sized artworks, collages, drawings, and her journals. Fiber art enthusiasts will find Tawney’s use of unconventional techniques and unique material combinations a refreshingly innovative approach to weaving. In Shield IV, for instance, Tawney blends linen, beads, and shells into a striking tangerine-colored composition that is at once visually arresting, texturally sophisticated, and poetically arranged. 

“Nothing can prepare you for seeing the works in person: powerful and dense, yet delicate, unfurling in breathtaking complexity,” writes Glenn Adamson, design scholar and editor-at-large for The Magazine ANTIQUES, who provided a detailed biography of the artist for the series’s publication. Of Dark River, one of Tawney’s largest early works, Adamson writes: “examining it up close, you realize how much mathematics and planning there is in Tawney’s work; her compositions are very rhythmic, expanding and contracting in a musical sequence.”

Tawney’s simultaneously poetic and analytical mind is also on full display in Cloud Labyrinth, a sixteen-foot-high, rectangular installation made of thousands of individual threads. The threads blend together into a wispy form that delicately dances in response to air currents. Seeing it is a truly singular experience. 

Jenamarie Boots

Mirror of the Universe • John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin • to March 7, 2020 • jmkac.org