Archive for Helena Hernmarck

Dispatches: Helena Hernmarck's Tabula Rasa at Purdue

Posted in Art, Commission, Helena Hernmarck, Installations with tags , , , , on January 19, 2011 by arttextstyle

Helena Hernmarck's Tabula Rasa at the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue's College of Liberal Arts

In 2009, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana selected Helena Hernmarck to design and execute a tapestry for the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. Lisa Lee Peterson, Professor and Graduate Director of Department of Art and Design, was instrumental in Hernmarck’s selection by the university art committee.  “Of the artists working in tapestry today,” the University’s press materials quote Jack Lenor Larson, “Helena Hernmarck stands without peer.  Her works have been selected for scores of prestigious public spaces and are seen each year by millions of viewers.  The hallmark of Ms. Hernmarck’s work is her skill in creating the optical illusion of three-dimensional designs on flat but richly textured surfaces of tapestry.”

Helena Hernmarck and Lisa Lee Peterson in Front of Tabula Rasa at Purdue University. Photo by Skif Peterson

The University determined the location of the piece — the stairwell between the first and second floors — but left the other details to Hernmarck, who addressed two needs in her conception for the piece. She wanted the designed image to collectively represent the various art forms that are studied within the building — painting, ceramic, jewelry, textile, industrial design, theater, dance and music and she wanted the design to fit within the chosen area and increase the feeling of space in the stairwell.

Designed during the summer 2009, Hernmarck settled on a theme for the design: tabula rasa, the unwritten page, also a piece of ceramic that is scraped clean of marks after each use. Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa would represent the beginning of the creative journey, whether at inception or at the commencement of an additional phase of the creative process.  During sketching, Hernmarck often finds the road to a final design through a process of changes or “scraping away” of initial ideas in such a way that previous marks still become part of the overall design. The early phase of Tabula Rasa is referenced in the few words written on a white page woven in the tapestry.

Hernmarck achieved the feeling of space for the stairwell that she envisioned by painting and then photographing small cut-up pieces of watercolors so that they cast shadows creating an image of being in flight. This enabled her to place the smallest of the elements of Tabula Rasa closest to the plane of the image, i.e. the place with the most sense of urgency. The final design includes a play on shadows to create a visual illusion on different levels which solved the challenge of designing the lower portion of the work to catch the eye of a person walking up the staircase.

Tabula Rasa, just off-the-loom on display at the Dalamas Museum, Falun, Sweden

Alice Lund Textiles, Borlange, Sweden produced the tapestry. The main weavers were Britt-Marie Bertilsson and Ebba Bergstrom. Tabula Rasa is the twenty-first tapestry of Helena Hernmarck’s design and technique to be woven at Alice Lund Textiles since 1975. The weaving took 30 weeks from beginning to finish. During this time, Hernmarck visited the studio periodically in order to oversee the quality of the work and to participate in both the weaving and the dying process of the wool with its numerous variations, shades and values. The colors were custom dyed at Wålstedts Textile Spinning and Dying Workshop in Dala-Floda. For Tabula Rasa the workshop dyed 24 kg of wool in 41 different colors. Hernmarck prefers to use of a variety of different qualities in the spun wool, such as thin gobeline, gobelin with rya wool, and single-ply rya wool. The final work includes hundreds of different colors and textures. A video of the weaving of  Tabula Rasa can be viewed at http://browngrotta.com/Pages/hernmarck.php.

Tabula Rasa by Helena Hernmarck Detail

Hernmarck’s unique technique combines different weaving methods and patterns with which she has experimented for more than 45 years. The Hernmarck tapestry technique creates a coarse texture much like the Impressionists’ painting style of the early 1900s. A full-scale enlargement of the image in black and white is created before beginning the tapestry. The cartoon is then adhered to the back side of the tapestry and draped over an aluminum tube that presses the cartoon up against the warp from underneath. The cartoon makes it possible to follow the forms and shadows that can be seen through the warp threads. In order to observe what the weaving will look like at a distance, the artist looks through a small pair of binoculars, turned backwards.  While the tapestry is woven on the horizontal loom, only 50 cm of the tapestry can be viewed at one time.  The ongoing action and reaction in changing colors and weaving techniques creates the overall beauty of the tapestry.

Tabula Rasa was unveiled at Purdue on October 12, 2010. The final size of the tapestry is 3 meters high x 4.45 meters wide (11′ x 14.3′); the weight about 50 kg. Hernmarck has created a related companion piece, Tabula Rasa 2, which is available for sale. http://browngrotta.com/Pages/newthisweek.php
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Dispatches: Helena Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa at Purdue

Posted in Art, Commission, Helena Hernmarck, Installations with tags , , , , on January 19, 2011 by arttextstyle

Helena Hernmarck's Tabula Rasa at the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue's College of Liberal Arts

In 2009, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana selected Helena Hernmarck to design and execute a tapestry for the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. Lisa Lee Peterson, Professor and Graduate Director of Department of Art and Design, was instrumental in Hernmarck’s selection by the university art committee.  “Of the artists working in tapestry today,” the University’s press materials quote Jack Lenor Larson, “Helena Hernmarck stands without peer.  Her works have been selected for scores of prestigious public spaces and are seen each year by millions of viewers.  The hallmark of Ms. Hernmarck’s work is her skill in creating the optical illusion of three-dimensional designs on flat but richly textured surfaces of tapestry.”

Helena Hernmarck and Lisa Lee Peterson in Front of Tabula Rasa at Purdue University. Photo by Skif Peterson

The University determined the location of the piece — the stairwell between the first and second floors — but left the other details to Hernmarck, who addressed two needs in her conception for the piece. She wanted the designed image to collectively represent the various art forms that are studied within the building — painting, ceramic, jewelry, textile, industrial design, theater, dance and music and she wanted the design to fit within the chosen area and increase the feeling of space in the stairwell.

Designed during the summer 2009, Hernmarck settled on a theme for the design: tabula rasa, the unwritten page, also a piece of ceramic that is scraped clean of marks after each use. Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa would represent the beginning of the creative journey, whether at inception or at the commencement of an additional phase of the creative process.  During sketching, Hernmarck often finds the road to a final design through a process of changes or “scraping away” of initial ideas in such a way that previous marks still become part of the overall design. The early phase of Tabula Rasa is referenced in the few words written on a white page woven in the tapestry.

Hernmarck achieved the feeling of space for the stairwell that she envisioned by painting and then photographing small cut-up pieces of watercolors so that they cast shadows creating an image of being in flight. This enabled her to place the smallest of the elements of Tabula Rasa closest to the plane of the image, i.e. the place with the most sense of urgency. The final design includes a play on shadows to create a visual illusion on different levels which solved the challenge of designing the lower portion of the work to catch the eye of a person walking up the staircase.

Tabula Rasa, just off-the-loom on display at the Dalamas Museum, Falun, Sweden

Alice Lund Textiles, Borlange, Sweden produced the tapestry. The main weavers were Britt-Marie Bertilsson and Ebba Bergstrom. Tabula Rasa is the twenty-first tapestry of Helena Hernmarck’s design and technique to be woven at Alice Lund Textiles since 1975. The weaving took 30 weeks from beginning to finish. During this time, Hernmarck visited the studio periodically in order to oversee the quality of the work and to participate in both the weaving and the dying process of the wool with its numerous variations, shades and values. The colors were custom dyed at Wålstedts Textile Spinning and Dying Workshop in Dala-Floda. For Tabula Rasa the workshop dyed 24 kg of wool in 41 different colors. Hernmarck prefers to use of a variety of different qualities in the spun wool, such as thin gobeline, gobelin with rya wool, and single-ply rya wool. The final work includes hundreds of different colors and textures. A video of the weaving of  Tabula Rasa can be viewed at http://browngrotta.com/Pages/hernmarck.php.

Tabula Rasa by Helena Hernmarck Detail

Hernmarck’s unique technique combines different weaving methods and patterns with which she has experimented for more than 45 years. The Hernmarck tapestry technique creates a coarse texture much like the Impressionists’ painting style of the early 1900s. A full-scale enlargement of the image in black and white is created before beginning the tapestry. The cartoon is then adhered to the back side of the tapestry and draped over an aluminum tube that presses the cartoon up against the warp from underneath. The cartoon makes it possible to follow the forms and shadows that can be seen through the warp threads. In order to observe what the weaving will look like at a distance, the artist looks through a small pair of binoculars, turned backwards.  While the tapestry is woven on the horizontal loom, only 50 cm of the tapestry can be viewed at one time.  The ongoing action and reaction in changing colors and weaving techniques creates the overall beauty of the tapestry.

Tabula Rasa was unveiled at Purdue on October 12, 2010. The final size of the tapestry is 3 meters high x 4.45 meters wide (11′ x 14.3′); the weight about 50 kg. Hernmarck has created a related companion piece, Tabula Rasa 2, which is available for sale. http://browngrotta.com/Pages/newthisweek.php

Books Make Great Gifts 2010: Artist Recommendations, Part III

Posted in Books with tags , , , on December 13, 2010 by arttextstyle

Here is the final set of this year’s book recommendations from artists whose work browngrotta arts represents. In the next posting, I’ll list the books Tom and have been talking up in 2010.

Kiyomi Iwata finds The Human Condition, a six-volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa a continuing inspiration.  Published between 1956 and 1958, Kiyomi says, “it is an epic novel about an ordinary man who tried to live true to his own soul during the Second World War.”  It is not available in English, but a well-reviewed film version, Ningen No Joken, directed by Matsaki Kobayashi, can be found on DVD. Among Kiyomi’s favorite books are Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio, who photographed 30 families in 24 countries – 600 meals in all, and  Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life and Vegetables by Joan Gussow. And Kyomi casts another vote for Haruki Murakami as best in 2010, ranking 1Q84 as the best book she read this year. (Lena McGrath Welker selected Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore as her favorite read this year.) There are three volumes in the 1Q84 series, which has created a sensation in Japan. The first two have been translated into English and will be published by Knopf in September 2011. A third translation will follow.

Nancy Moore Bess reports, “Some version of How to Wrap Five Eggs will always be on my coffee table, in my studio, or on my lap. The most recent purchase in a Tokyo used book bookstore is a boxed edition from the early 1970s and includes all the images we love, plus many photographs documenting the process of making. What a find! New workshops inspired me to reread (with some care) Kunio Ekiguchi’s Gift Wrapping: Creative Ideas from Japan which is much more than a book about giving gifts. Much of her introduction explains the connection between traditional packaging (tsutsumi) and gift wrapping (origata), something I had forgotten.”  Nancy notes that her “art” reading has been devoted to trying to understand the “vocabulary of beauty.”  She writes, “I have an old, dented copy from the Strand of Japanese Sense of Beauty. I have reread every copy of every book I own that discusses wabi-sabi in Japan. Diane Durston’s Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life is the one I keep by my reading chair. I can flip it open to any page and be delighted. Tim McCreight wrote two books I go back to: Design Language and Design Language: Interpretive Edition. I love the way these books all make me evaluate what I want to look at and touch.”

For continuing inspiration, Helena Hernmarck returns to Gunta Stölzl: Bauhaus Master.  The book includes dozens of key works by Stölzl  accompanied by excerpts drawn from her journals, letters and articles. The writings offer an intimate view of the artist’s life and work as a student, a Red Cross nurse during the war, student and then master of the weaving workshop  at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau and founder of her own hand-weaving business in Zurich. “The illustrations are beautiful,” says Helena, “and it’s so interesting to read Stölz’s impressions of what occurred at the Bauhaus, as it was happening.” Helena is currently reading My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor.  Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist experienced a massive stroke at 37 when a blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain. It would take eight years for Taylor to heal completely. The stroke taught Taylor that the feeling of nirvana is never more than a mere thought away and can be accessed by stepping to the right of our left brains.

Dispatches: Chicago's Art institute, Contemporary Fiber Art from the Permanent Collection

Posted in Christa C. Mayer Thurman, Helena Hernmarck, Jolanta Owidzka, Luba Krejci, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Museums, polish tapestry, The Art Institute of Chicago, Weaving, Zofia Butrymowicz with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by arttextstyle

Carter Taking Pictures on the entrance ramp that leads to the art institute

Posters for the two fiber exhibits photo by Carter Grotta

We made a hurried trip to the Art Institute on the last day of SOFA to see Contemporary Fiber Art: A Selection from the Permanent Collection, the inaugural exhibition in the reopened Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries, which were closed for five years during the construction of the Modern Wing. We walked there in the glorious morning sunshine, through a corner of Millennium Park, and entered the Institute from the bridge. Heading down to the textile galleries feels a bit like entering the basement, but once inside, the spaces are light and airy. The holdings of the Department of Textiles at the Art Institute comprise more than 66,000 sample swatches and 14,000 textiles ranging from 300 BC to the present. Extensive holdings of ecclesiastical textiles, 16th- and 17th-century velvets, 18th-century silks, 18th-20th-century printed fabrics, and lace are included in the department’s impressive collection of European textiles. Other notable holdings include American quilts and woven coverlets, historical fashion accessories, dress and furnishing fabrics and Japanese and Chinese holdings.

Entering the Exhibition facing "Red Doors" by Robert D. Sailors photo by Carter Grotta

Helena Hernmarck's Mu1 and and its maquette next to Si Rothko M'etait Conte by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette photo by Carter Grotta

The Collection also includes more than 400 textiles and fiber art works from the 20th Century. These are not freestanding fiber works, sculptures vessels or baskets, for the most part, but wall hangings and ceiling-hung pieces. Sixty-one of these pieces are currently on display. Nonetheless it is an impressive grouping. The usual suspects are here – Lenore TawneySheila Hicks and Claire Zeisler, Peter Collingwood and the Poles, Magdalena AbakanowiczZofia Butrymowicz and Jolanta Owidzka. But there are some surprises. Red Doors, by Robert D. Sailors, which graces the entrance is a show stopper. The Cynthia Schira that is included is an excellent piece.  Helena (Barynina) Hernmarck’s 1965 abstract tapestry Mu1 is enhanced by the powerful painted maquette that is displayed alongside. The Mariette Rousseau-Vermette work, Si Rothko M’etait Conté (If Rothko Himself Had Told Me a Story)(which we assisted a client in donating) was luminous. We were delighted to see the tapestries  floating off the wall, as we recommend, giving added dimension to the works. One quibble, the works in the cases in the conference room, which include a piece by Scott Rothstein, need to be better lit. Maybe motion detection lights would work, which would minimize energy use and uv exposure but still enable the works to be seen when viewers enter the room.

The items selected work well together, as curator Christa C. Mayer Thurman, emerita of the Department of Textiles, intended. The exhibition’s stated aim — to explore how fiber art has developed as an art form from the middle of the 20th Century through today and illustrate how the flexibility and variability of the medium encouraged artists to explore the potential of different fibers and methods — has certainly been achieved.

View of exhibit centered around a work by Claire Zeisler photo by Carter Grotta

Dispatches: Chicago’s Art institute, Contemporary Fiber Art from the Permanent Collection

Posted in Christa C. Mayer Thurman, Helena Hernmarck, Jolanta Owidzka, Luba Krejci, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Museums, polish tapestry, The Art Institute of Chicago, Weaving, Zofia Butrymowicz with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by arttextstyle

Carter Taking Pictures on the entrance ramp that leads to the art institute

Posters for the two fiber exhibits photo by Carter Grotta

We made a hurried trip to the Art Institute on the last day of SOFA to see Contemporary Fiber Art: A Selection from the Permanent Collection, the inaugural exhibition in the reopened Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries, which were closed for five years during the construction of the Modern Wing. We walked there in the glorious morning sunshine, through a corner of Millennium Park, and entered the Institute from the bridge. Heading down to the textile galleries feels a bit like entering the basement, but once inside, the spaces are light and airy. The holdings of the Department of Textiles at the Art Institute comprise more than 66,000 sample swatches and 14,000 textiles ranging from 300 BC to the present. Extensive holdings of ecclesiastical textiles, 16th- and 17th-century velvets, 18th-century silks, 18th-20th-century printed fabrics, and lace are included in the department’s impressive collection of European textiles. Other notable holdings include American quilts and woven coverlets, historical fashion accessories, dress and furnishing fabrics and Japanese and Chinese holdings.

Entering the Exhibition facing "Red Doors" by Robert D. Sailors photo by Carter Grotta

Helena Hernmarck's Mu1 and and its maquette next to Si Rothko M'etait Conte by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette photo by Carter Grotta

The Collection also includes more than 400 textiles and fiber art works from the 20th Century. These are not freestanding fiber works, sculptures vessels or baskets, for the most part, but wall hangings and ceiling-hung pieces. Sixty-one of these pieces are currently on display. Nonetheless it is an impressive grouping. The usual suspects are here – Lenore TawneySheila Hicks and Claire Zeisler, Peter Collingwood and the Poles, Magdalena AbakanowiczZofia Butrymowicz and Jolanta Owidzka. But there are some surprises. Red Doors, by Robert D. Sailors, which graces the entrance is a show stopper. The Cynthia Schira that is included is an excellent piece.  Helena (Barynina) Hernmarck’s 1965 abstract tapestry Mu1 is enhanced by the powerful painted maquette that is displayed alongside. The Mariette Rousseau-Vermette work, Si Rothko M’etait Conté (If Rothko Himself Had Told Me a Story)(which we assisted a client in donating) was luminous. We were delighted to see the tapestries  floating off the wall, as we recommend, giving added dimension to the works. One quibble, the works in the cases in the conference room, which include a piece by Scott Rothstein, need to be better lit. Maybe motion detection lights would work, which would minimize energy use and uv exposure but still enable the works to be seen when viewers enter the room.

The items selected work well together, as curator Christa C. Mayer Thurman, emerita of the Department of Textiles, intended. The exhibition’s stated aim — to explore how fiber art has developed as an art form from the middle of the 20th Century through today and illustrate how the flexibility and variability of the medium encouraged artists to explore the potential of different fibers and methods — has certainly been achieved.

View of exhibit centered around a work by Claire Zeisler photo by Carter Grotta

In Progress: Helena Hernmark’s Tabula Rasa

Posted in Commission with tags , on March 10, 2010 by arttextstyle
hernmarck-purdue.1.jpg

Here are rare in-progress images of Helena Hernmarck’s major commission for Pao Hall at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The finished work will be approximately 10 x 14.5 feet and is due to be completed later this year. Hernmarck was recommended to the University by Lisa Lee Peterson. Peterson is an artist and professor in the Department of Art and Design in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue, where she has taught fiber arts and textile design for twenty-five years.hernmarck.purdue.2.jpg

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In Progress: Helena Hernmark's Tabula Rasa

Posted in Commission with tags , on March 10, 2010 by arttextstyle
hernmarck-purdue.1.jpg

Here are rare in-progress images of Helena Hernmarck’s major commission for Pao Hall at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The finished work will be approximately 10 x 14.5 feet and is due to be completed later this year. Hernmarck was recommended to the University by Lisa Lee Peterson. Peterson is an artist and professor in the Department of Art and Design in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue, where she has taught fiber arts and textile design for twenty-five years.hernmarck.purdue.2.jpg

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