Monday, February 21, 2005

Does tapestry ever take on the quality of an overgrown back yard? Overgrown as in the sense of a riot of color and texture that makes most people grab a weed-whacker.

The sun shines finally after days and days of rain and gray skies. Our back yard is a fount of green and yellow. Unfortunately, most of the jubilant growth comes from a new generation of weeds, founded on the venerable remains of last fall's weeds. Sigh.

I find this growth and sparkle quite beautiful. It makes me smile and it reminds me of my childhood when no one paid for gardeners or had lawn irrigation systems. And as I think about that messy enthusiasm of oxalis, grasses, dandelions, thistle and weeds that I have no name for ("stinkweed" comes to mind), I wonder if that wasn't part of the whole explosion of form and texture in the late 60s and early 70s. For example, this piece by Sheila Hicks in the Museum of Nebraska Art has a charming innocent sense of growth and color - but you can be sure she's not producing that kind of work today. The works of Barbara Falkowska, a wonderful Polish artist, have the qualities that I am thinking of.

So where has this kind of overflowing burst of aesthetics gone to? If one sits down and weaves up a variation of "spilling guts" tapestry today then would it have the same effect? In other words, the weeds are the same every year and only change in position, bunching, time of flowering, and so on. Why don't we respond to highly textured tapestries in a positive way these days? Wouldn't this kind of backyard beauty be matched by a tapestry that followed this same logic of abundant growth?

Somehow I don't think so. We don't use the same system of appreciation for back yards and tapestries. And maybe that is a good thing... although at the moment, I'm not so sure.