Carolyn Furnish’s Statement
I am fascinated by iconography and hagiography, the study of Catholic saints. These shared legends make it possible to “read” an artwork through attributes, or symbols, and was a very effective learning tool for illiterate viewers during the Middle Ages.
“St. Sebastian” is an adaptation of a medieval woodcut. The legend of St. Sebastian has many versions, but most include a session in which he is shot through with arrows. I chose to give the tapestry a lively color scheme to imbue the scene with a carnival-like, or sideshow canvas appearance. Many of the saint biographies/legends contain lurid narrative details, partly to draw an audience through its shock value. The Old German banner was woven separately and added during the finishing process.
The model for “St. Lucia de Picasso” is Picasso’s 1932 painting, “Woman with a Book.” I morphed Picasso’s female figure into St. Lucia. According to legend, in a bid to maintain her virginity, she gouges out her eyes to keep suitors away. In Renaissance paintings, her emblem is either a serving plate with her eyeballs on it, or a stem of a plant with her eyes as “blossoms.” I chose to use the plant symbolism, and added woven text to further conflate “Women with a Book” with St. Lucia’s iconography.
“Flamingo Nest” has no direct connection with hagiography. This is simply an intimate portrait of a flamingo, close up, her head and bright green eye as the focus. I used a minimal amount of white mohair to add texture, showing the flamingo burrowing her head into her chest feathers, nesting. Much of the vivid, flamingo, bright yarn used in this tapestry is wool, spun and dyed by Florence Highfield, of Canfield Ohio.
Carolyn Furnish’s Biography
I was raised in the Panhandle of Texas, near the border of the true Southwest. As a child, in the 1950s and 60s, my family made many trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Gallup, and Navajo reservations in New Mexico and Arizona. Navajo weavings, especially the Yei style, influence my work.
Living now in Little Rock, AR, I learned to weave in Sacramento, California, as part of a BA in art history. I studied many weaving techniques, but tapestry always held my interest and imagination. After earning a Masters in English in Eugene, Oregon, and teaching for years, I retired in 2007. I quickly returned to tapestry.
In 2012, received the ATA Scholarship for Tapestry Study.
Selected for ATA “Small Tapestry International 3: Outside the Line.”
In 2015, “St. Lucia de Picasso” was selected for the “2015 Irene Rosenzweig Biennial Juried Exhibition” at the ASC in Pine Bluff, AR.
Member of Tapestry Weavers South since 2014.