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.
Lenore Tawney 1907-2007
at work in her New York City studio in 1958
photograph by David Attie.