Mirror of the Universe

Lenore Tawney's post-war fibre art on display at JMKAC


Yousuf Karsh, untitled (portrait of Lenore Tawney with Shadow River), 1959; digital image from the negative; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Estate of Yousuf Karsh.
From October 6, 2019 until March 7, 2020
Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) was an influential figure in the post-war fibre arts movement with impactful and groundbreaking work that continues to reverberate today. Known for her monumental sculptural weavings, Tawney’s practice also included drawing, collage, and assemblage. Tawney’s life’s work, dating from circa 1946-1997, will be the subject of a concurrent four-exhibition series, Mirror of the Universe,October 6, 2019 – March 7, 2020 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC). The exhibition represents the most comprehensive presentation of her work since 1990.
Improvisational, experimental, and deeply personal, Tawney’s work redefined traditional notions of weaving as she manipulated fibre into abstract sculptural forms and complex woven structures. She held a deep belief in mystical philosophies which ran through all aspects of her life and work. Artists, scholars, and friends revered Tawney for the complete integration of her art and her life including a series of New York City lofts she occupied from the late 1950s until her death in 2007. Her exceptional oeuvre can be seen as one cohesive body of work.
6 October 2019 - 7 March 2020
Lenore Tawney, untitled (Lekythos), 1962; linen, silk, gold, and feathers; 46 1/2 x 29 1/4 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.
Lenore Tawney, Shield IV, 1966; linen, beads, and shells; 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.
Paul J. Smith, Lenore Tawney's 20th Street Studio, 1985; digital file from the negative; dimensions variable. Courtesy of Paul J. Smith.
Lenore Tawney, Lost and Proud (detail), 1957; linen, silk, and wool; 43 x 51 1/2 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.
Lenore Tawney, Dove, 1974; linen; 118 x 108 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.
Lenore Tawney, untitled (detail), 1961; rayon and wool; 63 x 22 3/8 in. Courtesy of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski, courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center.