My art practice is focused on weaving pictorial tapestries. I developed two series for a solo exhibit in Atlanta in February-March 2018. Book of Hours is 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. The medieval manuscripts contain sacred meanings that are mostly lost to us today, while their visual appeal remains.
The other series is entitled My Real Name is Mary. This series is 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 is about identity for me too. My given name is Mary. But in a larger sense I'm 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 have tried to depict Mary in ways that acknowledge her depth, imagination, and courage.
Handwoven tapestry is a slow and painstaking discipline conducive to contemplation. As religious icons invite the prayerful gaze, I hope my icons invite us to slow our voracious consumption of information, arrest our restless gaze, and be still in the presence of an image that speaks.
Mary (the anxiety of influence)tapestry (c) Molly Elkind 2017
cotton, wool, metallic thread 45"x 37"