KNowledge Friday
With Helena Hernmarck
Friday, August 26th | 6:00 PM

Tickets: $15

Join us at The Church for the continuation of our monthly Knowledge Friday series with renowned textile artist Helena Hernmarck. Helena divides her time between her studio in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and her home on Shelter Island.

Helena learned her craft in the crucible of Swedish modernism, working with the three leading designers and reformers of Swedish textile arts. Their beautiful, lyrical work and artistic philosophies galvanized the already vital Swedish textile tradition and served as an example for Helena as she went on to pioneer her own imagistic and technical innovations. Starting in the late 1960s, she was recognized, most notably, for her work producing monumental tapestries for corporate settings. One of her earliest commissions was for the executive offices of the Weyerhaeuser Company in Seattle and one of her later commissions was for the Time Warner Center in New York. Architects with whom she’s collaborated with include Philip Johnson, I.M. Pei, George Nelson, Ulrich Franzen and others. In 1973, she received the American Institute of Architects Craftsmanship Medal.

Relying on optical illusions to create photorealistic effects, Hernmarck was among the first tapestry artists to use photographs as the basis for her designs. Her signature is her ability to harness light and color as conduits for spectacular illusion in handwoven textiles. Inventing her own techniques, she conjures details from our visual world: sunlight on water, sails swelling in the wind. The gloss of photo paper, the graininess of xerox copies, even creases in a weathered page have served as sources of technical inspiration in the continuous evolution of her technique. Seen from a distance, Hernmarck's tapestries present a powerful, unified impression. Up close, her compositions dissolve into innumerable color mixtures interlaced as warp and weft. Each tapestry begins with an image and is realized over months of weaving row-by-row at the loom. She blends colors in countless variations as the weaving progresses, creating a sense of visual impact unique to Hernmarck's work and the lustrous rya wool that is her primary material. 

Helena has had solo shows at the MoMA and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 1999, she was the subject of a retroactive exhibition at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology which travelled to Waldmarsudde in Stockholm. We are delighted to include her in The Church’s summer exhibition, Threading the Needle.