Since my relocation to New Mexico in 2018, my tapestry work has reflected the colors, forms, and features of the high desert landscape --and also my restless pushing of the edges of the tapestry medium. I am currently working in several series. The first explores the intersection between mixed-media collage and tapestry. I am increasingly interested in collage not only as a design strategy for traditional weft-faced weaving, but as a characteristic of the tapestries themselves, which may include diverse materials, textures, open warps and irregular edges. Currently on the website are two pieces in this category, Rough Draft and Mixed Message. I have also started a practice inspired by Sheila Hicks, weaving small, very improvisational and risk-taking pieces called minimes. These, such as Red Minime on the home page, are occasionally on view here.
A second series, called Fences, is based on my sketches of broken-down barbed wire fences in my neighborhood. It is my contribution to current conversations around borders, fences, and walls. Three pieces seen here, Gate, Falling, and Bruised, comprise this series to date.
Another series, small wedge weave tapestries, depicts the ever-changing, always beautiful New Mexico sky. Crosswinds, Virga, and Snowrise are pieces in this series.
Before the move to New Mexico, I developed two series for a solo exhibit in Atlanta in February-March 2018. Book of Hours was inspired by my study of illuminated manuscripts and medieval books of hours. The graphic qualities of the manuscript pages--the dense and colorful patterns, the mix of text, images and decoration, surrounded by either wide empty margins or even more dense patterning and decoration--all this inspired my series of contemporary illuminated manuscripts in tapestry form. Still available in this series are Red Letter Day and Red Letter Night.
The other series is entitled My Real Name is Mary. This series was inspired by a sixth-century icon of the Virgin Mary. The unconventional beauty of the icon's face and steady, enigmatic gaze prompted me to investigate what the image of Mary means and has meant for women over the centuries. Much of contemporary art is about issues of identity, and this series was about identity for me too. My given name is Mary. But in a larger sense I was, and am, concerned with how impossibly high standards of goodness, purity, beauty, and obedience attributed to Mary have influenced notions of ideal womanhood and ideal motherhood. In my tapestries I tried to depict Mary in ways that acknowledge her depth, imagination, and courage. Mary (Yes), Mater Dolorosa, and Mary (gilded) are still available pieces in this series.
Mary (Yes)tapestry (c) Molly Elkind 2017
cotton, wool, linen 28"x 19.5 "