Fashion Series: Revolution I

This tapestry began with a photograph in a book, of a French walking dress from the 1790’s. The black and white portion is the same dress but altered with filters both on my camera and in Photoshop. The original version had words around the border about fashion. I actually wove 3/4 of the border with the words. I decided I didn’t like it and unwove the whole border and rewove it with out the words. Since the border was sewn on as I wove this wasn’t as bad to do as it sounds. 

27.5 x 60 inches

Cotton and silk weft, seine twine warp.

Revolution was accepted into a show in Serbia at Atelier 61 in Novi Sad. Below is the explanation by the jury which awarded my tapestry best traditional tapestry technique.

The expert jury of the 5th Triennial of Tapestry in Novi Sad, consisting of the internationally established members starting with PhD Ivana Podnar from Croatia, MA Michaela Padeva from Bulgaria, and MA Vera Markovic from Serbia, had an assignment to award two equal prizes. One prize is for the best achievements in classical, traditional tapestry and the other one is for the best achievements in contemporary tapestry.

The first prize work in classical tapestry belongs to BARBARA BURNS from the USA, titled ‘Revolution’. The tapestry is based on particularly classical weaving technique where the author uses figuration as a traditional mode of artistic communication, with the motifs belonging to the familiar, whereas the idea of revolution is its true, undeniable content. In the world that has already seen numerous variations of revolution, from political to artistic ones, the very idea of the revolution endangers the originality of the artistic work. However, Barbara Burns has successfully redefined this term using the exactly ordinary codes in order to create outstanding meaning and she has also asked the questions which, like the female image on the tapestry, overcome the conventional frames. The revolution is absolutely beating under the superbly, technically manufactured surface of the tapestry and it is urging the recipient to look for the signs that bring in the restlessness, and which can be seen only after the second examining, through the intuition that helps the recipient reveal both the form and the meaning gradually and unconsciously. Those are the lost identities, depersonalised faces and personified ornaments of the gowns that win the revolutionary victory in constructing of one’s ‘I’. Following the tradition of illustration of fashion magazines, which had an important, emancipating role in the modern society, American artist, once again, in the 21st century, puts the focus on fundamental problems of the meaning of historical revolutions, binding the two worlds separated by the ocean with the universal thread, and the problems could be simply put in one question- What has the revolution brought to us?

This year fifth Triennial showed strong  heterogeneity in approaches, styles, techniques, contents, which made the jury’s task of reaching the decisions more interesting, but at the same time more challenging to recognise high artistic attitudes at all levels. Almost equally heterogeneous jury made the consensus, unusually easy, regarding the awarded works which started numerous important questions about the position and the importance of textile art in a contemporary context, not just in vivid world, but in Serbia as well.


Artist’s collection