Saturday, June 20, 2009

Done with Devotion

Just about every week, we head to the Corner Brook Public Library.  This is a real treat for us since our local library in Queens is, sad to say, the pits and we have given up using it.  Some people in town here mock the CB library but we soak it up.  Finn and Lucy gather piles of books and cram in lots and lots of reading.  We read in NYC too, but this is that great, sometimes completely random, experience of taking chances on books that you have never heard of that only a library can offer.

I love wandering around the non-fiction shelves and especially the Newfoundland and Labrador section.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of self-published memoirs and biographies.  Some of them are absolutely unreadable but occasionally you hit a real gem.  I always check out their knitting section despite that I have only seen one new book in about five years of looking.  This last time, however, I wandered a little further and squatted down near the floor and found a huge, coffee table book (maybe could be used AS the coffee table) called "Beyond Craft: The Art Fiber" by Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenore Larson (1972).  

What a find!

It has a somewhat breathless introductory essay that is charming for its enthusiasm, which runs along the lines of: people working with fibers have changed the world!  Art will never be the same!  Then it features a bio and photographs of work by artists from around the world.  The biographies are occasionally hilarious in a real 1970s way:  "The Jacobis are a swinging couple..."  and use language that I am glad to see has gone the way of the dodo:  "...Wilhelmina Fruytier is a tall, handsome woman..."

Much of the work featured has a very dated look to it but some of the work has transcended its time period and still resonates.  I have been googling some of the names to see if they are still working but many seem to be lost to history.  I guess art wasn't changed forever.

One person whose work stood out was Lenore Tawney.  She only just recently died at age 100.  Here is a link to her obituary in the New York Times.  I highly recommend reading to the end. 

at work in her New York City studio in 1958
photograph by David Attie.

1 comment:

MyMixMix said...

There is another book you might enjoy (you may already know of it)"Bauhaus Textiles, Women Artists and the Weaving Workshop", the same women you mentioned plus more of that era.