"Judy Chicago Tapestries: Woven by Audrey Cowan" Exhibition

Museum of Arts & Design

poster for "Judy Chicago Tapestries: Woven by Audrey Cowan" Exhibition

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"Judy Chicago Tapestries: Woven by Audrey Cowan" celebrates the generous gift of tapestry weaver Audrey Cowan and her husband Bob of the archive documenting Audrey's collaboration with Judy Chicago, the internationally renowned artist, feminist, and educator. The exhibition provides a behind-the-scenes view of their creative process, in which Chicago designed tapestries that Cowan then interpreted in thread. The exhibition will feature Chicago’s original sketches, initial and final studies, black-and-white cartoons, and wood engravings, hung next to nine finished tapestries. Two of these will be opus works—“The Creation” and “The Fall”—from "Birth Project" and "Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light," which along with five other tapestries, and many of Chicago’s most important cartoons and studies, are to be part of the Cowan gift.

The two women met in 1976, when Cowan became part of a corps of artisans involved in the creation of Chicago’s legendary and influential installation piece “The Dinner Party,” today permanently installed in The Brooklyn Museum. Cowan’s role was to weave an Aubusson-style tapestry runner, designed by Chicago, for the place setting honoring Eleanor of Aquitaine. Befitting the heightened social consciousness of that era, Chicago took umbrage with the fact that Aubusson tapestries were traditionally woven from the reverse side, so that the weaver was unable to see the front of the tapestry while she worked and so exercise artistic control. In response, Chicago in collaboration with Aubusson master Jean-Pierre Larochette devised a modified Aubusson tapestry technique, which allowed the weaver to work from the front of the tapestry. After learning the technique from Larochette, Cowan used it in all her projects with Chicago.

During the first half of the 1980s, Judy Chicago produced Birth Project, which included dozens of images of birth and creation realized in a variety of needlework and textile techniques. Among the most significant components was "The Creation," a 14-foot wide tapestry woven by Cowan. She continued her collaboration with Chicago in the 1990s with the powerful Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light, which examined profound issues relating to the human condition. Cowan wove the massive 18-foot wide tapestry, “The Fall."



from March 01, 2011 to June 19, 2011

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