Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) ranks among the most influential, though under-recognized, artists of the postwar fiber movement.
Given her groundbreaking approach to open-warp weaving, her adaptation of ancient textile-making processes, and her multidisciplinary study of space, structure, and line, deep consideration of her work is essential to a complete understanding of twentieth-century art.
One of the largest retrospective exhibitions of Tawney’s oeuvre to date, In Poetry and Silence includes more than 120 works. They span from her earliest sculptures to her later assemblage, with a focus on the fiber-based sculptures for which Tawney is most well-known.
Augmenting these works is an unprecedented look at Tawney’s studio environment. Although she moved her studio several times, Tawney carefully thought out her surroundings and created a spiritual retreat from the bustle of New York City in each location. In the gallery, an evocation of Tawney’s studio space includes works by esteemed friends and objects acquired from her travels as well as hundreds of treasures such as eggs, feathers, shells, gold leaf, and artifacts that provided inspiration, some of which would find themselves incorporated into her weavings and assemblages.
The Arts Center recently acquired several key components from Tawney’s studio from the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation with assistance from Kohler Foundation, Inc. The inclusion of many of these objects in this installation demonstrates the Art Center’s ongoing commitment to the preservation and presentation of artist-built environments.
Image credit: Installation view of “In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney” at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2019.