Ellen Ramsey’s Statement
After 9/11, I was struggling to understand the act of martyrdom as it related to the tragedy. I saw an image on television of an overturned flower cart near ground zero where bouquets of red roses had been coated by a thick blanket of ash. I was really struck by the image given the fact that the rose is a traditional symbol for martyrdom. I could not get that image out of my mind, and out this grew the design for Rift. Years later, Rift has become a catalyst for a recent body of work exploring universal ideas expressed through opposites. An abstracted rose has come to be, as I use it, a yin/yang symbol that represents the presence of duality in everything. The spiral-like symmetry of the petals in combination with its ubiquitous thorns endows the rose with the capacity to reference the co-existence of opposites, like love and suffering, in a single iconic image.
Together Repose and Awakening depict the concepts of yin and yang. Awakening is about the yang side of life: the creative principle; all that is movement, light, chaos, and expression. The red trigram is from the I Ching (a Chinese symbol system) and means “the creative; the heavens; the father; active.” The trigram in Repose means “the receptive, earth, the mother, passive.” It represents all that is cyclical and eternal, like the moon and the tides, birth and death. I began weaving Repose shortly after my mother passed away. I made the last minute decision to weave the roses in the vessel with retro reflective fiber as an analogy for the soul. Like her memory, when the light catches it just right, it shines.
Ellen Ramsey’s Biography
Ellen Ramsey lives and works in Lake Forest Park, Washington, and is a member of Tapestry Artists of Puget Sound. She has studied art since childhood and has an M.A. in Art History from the University of Iowa. She studied French classical tapestry technique with Mary Lane, a founding member of the Scheuer Tapestry Studio, from 1998 to 2001. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Tapestry Alliance from 2003-2009.