David R. Mooney’s Statement
Vertumnus Appears before Pomona in the Guise of a Cyclist celebrates my 40 years of marriage to Maxine Heller, who also weaves tapestries. It is also an acknowledgement of my debt to traditional European tapestries which inspired me as a child and continue to do so. The formal structure of the piece, body postures, hand gestures, the border elements and the banderole are modeled on a set of tapestries woven in 16th Century Brussels that tell the story, from Ovid, of Vertumnus and Pomona. Vertumnus appears before Pomona in various guises in order to win her heart. My updated version is typical of traditional narrative tapestries in that it tells the story in three parts. In the small figures, Vertumnus rides towards Pomona and she walks away. In the standing figures, he’s closer but she’s still not sure. Finally in the profiles they get together. The title is given in the banderole as an amplitude wave form, a nod to my many years of composing sound based compositions on the computer.
While Vertumnus was on the loom, I wove a number of smaller works based primarily on photographs mined from family albums. Figurative work has always been a part of what I do but in the past have mostly been straightforward portraits. In these newer works the emphasis has been on using related photos in a collage approach. Marco and Us, as my grandmother wrote on the back of the photo, derives from two pictures obviously taken moments apart. In the main image, Marco, the ship’s steward, stands next to my grandmother and great aunt, discretely not quite resting his hand on my grandmother’s shoulder. He knows his job–keep them happy and know your limits. The yellow images of the women are from the second photo. Departing from this, The Anatomy Lesson helped me deal with the emotional and psychological trauma of a serious cycling accident in July, 2017. The title is from the Rembrandt painting, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.
David R. Mooney’s Biography
Old tapestries in the museum where I grew up fascinated me as a child, and they still do. In college my girlfriend was an art major concentrating on weaving. I spent many hours in the weaving studio and become a kind of resident helper. This taught me about looms, how to dress them, the different types, etc. When life drew me in the direction of visual art, weaving, specifically tapestry, seemed to natural choice. Over the next fifteen years I struggled with the big questions: Why am I doing this? Who is to for? This drove me to a number of technical innovations in an effort to do what seemed to be demanded of artists: break new ground, innovate, etc. In the end, it was just too frustrating. I gave up weaving and returned to work in sound, which I had been doing in high school. Over the next 27 years I composed many works, had some performed and commercially released on disks, Eventually, hearing loss brought this to a close.
When it became evident the continuing to work in sound was no longer viable, I returned to tapestry. This was in no small part inspired be the work of Maxine Heller. She became interested in tapestry through me, but over the years, found her own path. I began looking at her work more carefully than I had in years and was amazed at what I saw. She didn’t learn this from me. The student became the teacher. This time around, I’ve let go of all the heavy philosophical stuff, enjoy the process and do the work that appeals to me. It has been a joy.