press release

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
Four-Exhibition Series to Explore the Artist's Life, Impact, and Work
October 8, 2019–March 7, 2020

This series of four exhibitions will explore Lenore Tawney's (1907–2007) life and impact, offering a personal and historical view into her entire body of work.

Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) was an American artist who is known for her groundbreaking work in fiber as well as for her drawings, collages, and assemblages.

Tawney’s innovative interpretations of traditional practices were central to shifting the perception of weaving from simply a utilitarian craft to fiber art as we know it today. Her experimentation with open-warp techniques resulted in gauzy, loose works of a nonfunctional, free-flowing nature. In what she referred to as “woven forms,” Tawney’s unorthodox sculptural works took weaving beyond the expected flat rectangular format, moving fiber art off the wall and into three-dimensional space.

Both collaborative and in-depth, this series of four exhibitions brings together thought leaders who provide a dynamic and unprecedented look at this pioneering artist’s legacy. It is the first time Tawney’s oeuvre has been approached from multiple perspectives.

At once retrospective and forward-looking, Mirror of the Universe and the accompanying publication of the same name shed light on the enduring and multifaceted impact that Lenore Tawney had on contemporary art.

Glenn Adamson provides a detailed biography of the artist for the publication. Mary Savig, the curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, delves into Tawney’s rich archive and ephemera in Ephemeral and Eternal: The Archive of Lenore Tawney. Karen Patterson, curator at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, links Tawney’s practice to her studio environment with In Poetry and Silence. Arts Center Interim Senior Curator Shannon R. Stratton examines Tawney’s impact on eight contemporary artists in Every Thread Has a Speech, and Associate Curator Laura Bickford hones in on Tawney’s “Cloud” series in Cloud Labyrinth. Additional support, advice, insight, and research for the entire series was provided by Kathleen Nugent Mangan, executive director of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation.