Claudia was here in Seattle with me for the last couple of weeks and last week we had the pleasure of getting coffee with Mary Lane of The American Tapestry Alliance. After, we all stopped by the monthly tapestry group meeting of the Seattle Weavers’ Guild.
It got me thinking about the benefits of joining weaving or beading guilds and associations. In high school and college I had friends who went to a different group meeting every day of the week. I was never one of those people. It’s partly because I’m not very good at being a little bit involved in things; it’s either all or nothing with me. It’s also because I am painfully shy and walking into a new group is always a little scary.
That noted, I believe that every weaver can benefit from being a member of some kind of weaving group if not for the camaraderie (I don’t know what it is, but weavers have a tendency to be pretty awesome people), for the resources. The first Seattle Weavers’ Guild meeting I attended a few years ago impressed me immensely and their tapestry group is the best source of inspiration I can think of.
The American Tapestry Alliance is a national (international, actually) tapestry organization that does everything from putting on exhibitions to workshops and member retreats. It’s a fabulous organization and it isn’t just for professional weavers. In fact, new tapestry weavers can really benefit from membership. From their tapestry mentoring program to educational articles and a chance to rub shoulders with some tapestry celebrities, it’s a group I wholeheartedly encourage all level of tapestry weavers to join!
You can learn more about joining the American Tapestry Alliance here.
You can learn more about joining the Seattle Weavers’ Guild here. I just noticed the picture on that page is of the tapestry group. Recognize those looms?
I encourage you to look up your local weavers’ guild or bead society!
Nostalgia brought on by our recent attendance at Convergence (the Hand Weaver Guild of America’s every two year event) lead me to do some research to rediscover my tapestry past. Searching for “Tapestry Tool Box” I found a letter from Marti Fleischer who was the editor for The American Tapestry Alliance newsletter from 1994 to 2002. I met Marti through mail and maybe even phone conversations, and soon I was writing a column for the ATA newsletter (back in the days when it was mailed to all its members). In her good-bye letter as editor she mentions that column: “In 1994 we began running The Tapestry Toolbox written by Claudia Anne Chase. The article, which continued several years, lent insight into questions about looms and all related tapestry paraphernalia.” I apparently also became a member of the ATA Board. Thank goodness for the internet to kick start my past! The ATA began in 1993.
I first met Marti in an elevator the day I arrived at my hotel to attend that first Convergence (it was the first Convergence for ATA as well!). I was wearing a long silk dress and my long dark hair hung way past my waist. Because there was no room in the elevator, I stood on my suitcase. Marti walked into the elevator and I recognized her right away (don’t ask me how; maybe I had seen a photograph of her). I said hello and told her who I was. She looked up at this six foot tall woman (remember all 5 feet 2 inches of me was standing on a suitcase) and she said: “Oh my gosh, I thought you were Cher!”
Those three years of articles are buried somewhere in my attic. I have no idea what they were about!
I will never forget that first Convergence. I traveled there by car with three other weavers (I was the only tapestry weaver). I was living in Wisconsin and Convergence was in Minneapolis. The year was 1994.
My greatest memory of the event was attending the the tapestry exhibit and the Small expressions exhibit. The only huge tapestries I had ever seen before included images of unicorns and castles. This exhibit was mind blowing. Most of them were huge. And every single grabbed my full attention. I had to tear myself away. For examples of tapestry please check out the ATA artist page: http://americantapestryalliance.org/artist-pages/ Plan on going back again and again. But there is nothing like seeing these pieces in person so if there is ever an American Tapestry exhibit near you GO. Once you get there, they will have to force you to leave.
Should you join the ATA? Of course you should. From their humble beginnings they have grown into a strong and important organization tying together this rare species, tapestry weavers. Please visit their website: http://americantapestryalliance.org And while you are at it, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/American-Tapestry-Alliance/121689989043
A little about the ATA and its mission statement:
The American Tapestry Alliance (ATA) is engaged in a wide range of educational, exhibition, outreach and promotional programs. Our programs serve the goals of our Mission Statement:
-to promote an awareness of and appreciation for woven tapestries designed and woven by individual artists
-to encourage and recognize superior quality tapestries
-to encourage educational opportunities in the field of tapestry
-to sponsor exhibitions of tapestries
-to establish a network for tapestry weavers throughout the world
-to educate the public about the history and techniques involved in tapestry making
The American Tapestry Alliance grew out of a friendship between two tapestry weavers, Hal Painter and Jim Brown, who had a common desire to promote and establish tapestry during a time when the art form was experiencing a revival. From their auspicious first meeting at Hal’s studio in 1968 where Jim was suddenly transformed from a potter to a weaver, to the 30,000 miles they travelled through the United States and Mexico to teach tapestry, to their eventual creation of an alliance in 1982 that would unite American tapestry weavers, Hal and Jim broke the ground that current ATA leaders and members gratefully still.
Is the ATA the right organization for a beginner tapestry weaver to join?
Yes! We encourage all interested in tapestry, beginners to professional weavers, educators, museums and art galleries.
What are the benefits of joining ATA?
ATA offers its members: exhibition opportunities, educational retreats and workshops, e-news, e-kudos, long distance learning and helping hands programs, an on-line quarterly newsletter called Tapestry Topics, an extensive awards program including scholarships and an international student award and an extensive website.
What campaigns or programs do you have going on right now?
ATA’s annual fundraiser, this year a Raffle consisting of a tapestry woven by Jane Kidd (shown above), as well as many other prizes. Enter here!
American Tapestry Biennial 10 opens at Visions Art Center, San Diego, CA May 2 – July 20, 2014. Learn more here.
UNTITLED/UNJURIED: Small format tapestry 2014 opens at University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery, July 8 – August 8, 2014.
Call for entry for Small Tapestry International 4: Honoring Tradition, Inspiring Innovation.
Learn more about the ATA (and join!) on their website:
The American Tapestry Alliance is an organization near and dear to our hearts and this month, they’re our featured Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 share-sponsor. Please take a moment to learn a little more about the ATA and check out some of their amazing programs and resources. Check back next week for a full post with more details all about the ATA!
What’s going on?
Check out their 2014 raffle here, where you have a chance to win a Mirrix Loom or other great prizes. Enter here!
The American Tapestry Biennial 10 exhibit begins tomorrow at Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA. Exhibits will also be at Kent State University Museum in Kent, Ohio and Kaneko in Omaha, Nebraska. Learn more here.