The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is pleased to present Helena Hernmarck: Weaving in Progress, organized by The Aldrich’s interim co-director Richard Klein. In addition to exhibiting a selection of her work, Hernmarck, one of the most important contemporary figures in the evolving history of woven tapestries, will be in residence at the Museum from October 14, 2018, to January 27, 2019.
Hernmarck began her career in the 1960s during an explosion of interest in fiber arts. Her innovations over the ensuing years are unsurpassed in visual imagery and technical innovation. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Hernmarck focused her practice on the pictorial, rather than sculptural form and abstraction. Influenced by pop culture, her mature style evolved into the creation of often-monumental tapestries that exhibit complex illusionary space and diverse subject matter, including trompe l’oeil, landscape, still life, and the human figure. Her primary technique, a discontinuous plain weave on top of which she hand picks a supplementary pattern weft, resembles computer pixels, enabling Hernmarck to produce images that expand the use of photographic imagery into territory that is both abstract and realistic.
During Weaving in Progress, the gallery space will not only exhibit a selection of tapestries, but also function as a weaving studio. Three days a week, Hernmarck, and her apprentice Mae Colburn, will be working at the artist’s five-foot-wide Glimåkra Countermarch loom. An inventory of the wool used in the process will be on view, along with a display of materials from the artist’s archive, including photographs, watercolors, drawings, prototype samples, and other ephemera that illustrate and inform Hernmarck’s process and the evolution of her career. The majority of the wool used in the tapestries is spun to her specifications at a family-run spinning mill in Sweden, and hand-dyed to reflect her color sensibilities. Visitors may touch and pick up the skeins of wool, amplifying the material nature of tapestry production.
Weaving in Progress is the first solo exhibition of Hernmarck’s work in the United States since 2012 and will present twenty tapestries. Many of the works will be hung from the ceiling, so visitors can experience the complex three-dimensionality of her weaving technique, and the unusual materials she sometimes uses, such as leftover sequin material. The exhibition will transform the Museum from a place of looking to a place of making, where the physicality of fiber is amplified by the presence of the artist’s hand. The sound of the loom’s beater being sharply pulled to compress each row of weft will fill the space and the evolving progress of the tapestry will encourage repeat visitation.
Helena Hernmarck was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1941. She lives and works in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Generous support for Helena Hernmarck: Weaving In Progress is provided by The Coby Foundation and Eric Diefenbach and James Keith Brown.
Top image: elena Hernmarck: Weaving in Progress (installation view) The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum