Through April 29, Tapestry Weavers South (TWS) is exhibiting more than 50 handcrafted fiber works in the Folk Art Center’s Main Gallery. Three of the TWS members featured in the show are also members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild: Tommye Scanlin, Pat Williams and Sandy Adair. The Guild has long upheld a close relationship with TWS and this is the organization’s third show with the Guild. “Working to bring the tapestries of the TWS artists to the Folk Art Center is always a pleasure,” says participating weaver Gail Griffith. “These artists are imaginative, creative and skillful and their work represents a wide range of themes and techniques.”
Tapestry weaving, a method of creating a picture through weaving, is one of the oldest forms of woven textiles. Historically, tapestries were a group project, with many weavers working together to create a single tapestry. The design was often created by someone who had no part in the weaving process. Contemporary tapestries are created entirely by a single person from start to finish, a process that requires an extensive and varied skill set.
Scanlin started weaving in the 1970s and discovered tapestry weaving a decade later. “I was always looking for how I could combine the drawing and painting I’ve done since childhood with weaving, which I fell in love with in my twenties,” she says. “When I began to learn tapestry weaving in the late 1980s, I realized that, for me, tapestry was the perfect way to do that.”
Scanlin was one of the 18 founding members of TWS who met for the first time in Georgia in 1996. “From the first, our goal was to offer ways that folks could learn about tapestry weaving as a vital contemporary art form,” she says. “I think we’ve succeeded wonderfully well in doing that for over two decades now.” TWS exhibits at least once a year in the Southeast, publishes a newsletter and sponsors workshops and retreats for its members.
In addition to the work of Scanlin, Griffith, Williams and Adair, the exhibit will feature Jean Clark, Nancy Dugger, Michelle Elliot, Nancy Garretson, Barbara Gilmore, Joan Griffin, Louise Halsey, Betty Hilton Nash, Connie Lippert, Mary Jane Lord, Lynne Mayne, Sidsel Moreb, Laurie O’Neill, April Carter Price, Christina Rasmussen, Jennifer Sargent, Dorina Scalia, Rosemary Smith, Rebecca Stevens, Sarah Thomsen, Linda Weghorst and Holly Wilkes.
SHCG is a nonprofit, educational organization established in 1930 to cultivate the crafts and makers of the Southern Highlands for the purpose of shared resources, education, marketing and conservation. The Folk Art Center is located at Milepost 382 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, just north of the Highway 70 entrance in east Asheville. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., April through December, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., January through March. Learn more at craftguild.org.