Ellen Ramsey
Contemporary Tapestry

About Me

 I am a Seattle artist who works at the intersection of the material and the digital. I was introduced to French classical tapestry weaving techniques in the late 1990s and have been creating unique artworks using the binary language of the loom ever since.  Prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1990, I earned an MA in art history with a studio concentration in photography and new media from the University of Iowa. My work has been included in numerous national and international juried exhibitions. 

 You can view my CV here.

You can view videos about my practice on YouTube  here, and here.

Go here to read my spotlight interview on CreateWhimsy.com

Artists Statement

I am attracted to the medium of tapestry weaving for its ability to imbue imagery with tactility and permanence. What all my work has in common is a preoccupation with layers, intersecting lines, and symbolic narrative.

Since 2020 I have been working with the themes of connection, consumption, and materiality as it relates to technology.  I am fascinated by the intricate arrangement of copper traces and transistors on circuit board assemblies and I use these visual elements as the foundation for my tapestry designs.  I design my work using Photoshop and generative software, digitally collaging and manipulating images of circuitry, and arranging the elements in ways that often reference the design language of historic textiles. From my digital images, I weave bold, contemporary tapestries that tell stories about being human in the digital age. 

I enjoy the irony of exploring digital subject matter with such an ancient and insistently analog process. I make both mural sized tapestries and small mixed media pieces that incorporate salvaged electrical wire.  

Making tapestry is continually engaging, involving constant decision making and an element of risk - risk, because one cannot go back and change a design choice once that area has been woven and rolled around the beam.  I never see the entire tapestry until it is completely finished. Every tapestry is a bit of a surprise in the end, but always a satisfying achievement.

About Tapestry

The word “tapestry” gets applied to many forms of fiber art for the wall, but by definition the term refers to a specific weaving technique used to create imagery in cloth. The warp threads run vertically and form the armature for the weft threads. The image is created by the weft, built by hand, line by line, in discontinuous shapes from the bottom up – a separate group of threads for each color. It is the only form of weaving that has never been mechanized. It is a very old practice and there are many different tapestry traditions in the world. The tradition that I was taught was developed in Europe in the late middle ages, when large workshops wove elaborate, mural sized tapestries to adorn castles, palaces, and churches. There are still active tapestry workshops in many countries, but today there are also countless individual artist weavers, like myself, who weave their own unique designs. (So, what's in your castle?)

Using Format