Unfortunately, like every over-used word, it will soon cease to mean anything. Epic, anyone? Awesome?
Overused or not, ICONIC is the working title of my 2018 show of tapestries. Save the date: the opening will be Sunday, February 25, 2018. The show will run February 15-March 13 at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA) in Atlanta.
Lest it sound presumptuous to describe my own work as iconic, let me explain. I've been obsessed for the past few years with a particular icon, the one pictured below, of Mary the mother of Jesus. This is an icon in the original sense, a painting of a religious figure intended to enhance prayer and spiritual devotion. For me, this image has sparked a whole series of tapestries exploring the meaning and influence of the mythic figure of Mary.
|Mary, detail of 6th c. encaustic icon at Sta. Maria della Francesca church, Rome|
|Molly Elkind, Mary (Yes), handwoven tapestry in progress, (c) 2017|
|Molly Elkind, Mary (the anxiety of influence), handwoven tapestry, (c) 2017|
Related to this series is another series I'm working on, loosely based on medieval illuminated manuscripts. These texts were packed with meaning for their original readers, serving as prayer books. Nowadays most of us cannot read the text, and we appreciate them purely for their decorative qualities, and perhaps for the insight they offer into a different world and time.
I find these manuscripts fascinating for the layout of the pages--those margins, either empty or packed with intricate decoration! That profusion of pattern! That beautifully lettered text, which contains some kind of sacred meaning, out of reach for most of us today. The way the patterns, pictures and words are interwoven into one unified surface fascinates me.
In my tapestry series I am experimenting with compositions that explore margins and centers, and with combinations of text, or text-like patterns, and abstract imagery. Red Letter Day is part of this series. I am starting a companion piece, tentatively titled Red Letter Night--it will have a dark background.
|Molly Elkind, Red Letter Day, handwoven tapestry, (c) 2016|
Here's a peek at the collage and some sampling I've done for Red Letter Night.
And I have several small pieces in the series as well. Here's one:
|Molly Elkind, Huh?, handwoven tapestry (c) 2016|
An icon provides an occasion and the means for contemplation, for meditation, a chance to forget oneself and one's daily life for a few moments and enter another deeper or higher reality. . . . Rather like what we have come to expect artwork to offer us.
What is iconic for you?