Ellen Ramsey
Contemporary Tapestry

Late to the Party: Threads of Resistance

I’ve recently finished a piece that is inspired by the toxic political divide we now endure. It is called “Lose/Lose” and it consists of nine 4” x 4” tapestries with embroidered and beaded embellishment.

Lose/Lose, 16 x 16 inches, wool, silk, beads.

This piece is a continuation of an older series of work inspired by the concept of duality, or the dynamic balance of opposites.  In this series, I use an abstract rose as a ying/yang type symbol for its capacity to represent both positive and negative concepts simultaneously, such as devotion and betrayal.  A potent symbol, it appears repeatedly in religious and political contexts throughout history. The rose was even adopted as a symbol of non-violent political resistance in Nazi Germany.

In late 2016, I saw the Call for Entries for a fiber show called “Threads of Resistance.”  I had the design for a political tic tac toe piece in my sketchbook, but there was not enough time to do the piece by the deadline. I moved on. I was sick of roses and deep in “lotus land.” But throughout 2017, as I witnessed the sh*t show that is now our daily dose of crazy, I felt more and more compelled to make the piece anyway.  Blue vs. Red seems about as diametrically opposed as life and death these days. There is no peaceful co-existence.

Sometimes I think of this center piece as “Putin’s Dream”

Over the holidays, it was a welcome diversion to have small, portable work to do. I chipped away at the 4” X’s and O’s.  As weavings, they looked pretty boring though. I wasn’t sure this project was going anywhere.

I embroidered the roses and rose canes on them, which helped a lot, but I still thought they were not visually engaging enough. And they looked like coasters…

At this point the project was dead in the water. I didn’t like how they looked and I wasn’t feeling motivated to finish the piece.  But then summer came and I took a workshop from Rowan Scheussheim-Anderson. Rowan is a proponent of never giving up on a piece. She looks for off-loom ways to “fix” pieces that aren’t turning out as envisioned. She has been known to collage separate tapestries together or attach pieces of cloth or 3D items on top of her weavings to tweek her compositions. She also beads on her pieces to cover up mistakes or to bring life to certain areas.  After that workshop I thought I would try beading on Lose/Lose in a last ditch effort to save it. This had never occurred to me before. The beading turned it around for me.  It brought some much needed visual interest into it, as well as dimensionality.  I decided to finish it.

So the Threads of Resistance show is long gone, and I never showed up at the party.  The circumstances that inspired that show and this piece, however, are as present as ever. Party on, Garth. #Resist

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