The combination of different perspectives and spatial conventions, the use of pattern and flat color, the affirmation of the flat surface of the cloth and the accumulation of narrative detail characterize all of Maffei’s recent tapestries. Graffiti combines an aerial view of the traffic, a frontal view of the buildings and a spatially receding view of a train careening into the station. The cars becomes a patterned, partial frame around the train yard and the buildings close off the image on the top, keeping the image, and our attention on the plane of the tapestry.
In View from 252 we look out the window of the artist’s former apartment across 31st Street to the Post Office, where street performers and circus animals have arrived to entertain last minute tax filers on April 15th. Here again, we see the central image bounded asymmetrically by the pattern of traffic and the Post Office logo , a combination of viewing perspectives and the rendering of a witnessed experience in minute detail.
In 2000 Maffei was approached about weaving a commission for the Roland Park Country School in Baltimore. Although she does not usually work on a commission basis, the patron convinced her to pursue the project by allowing her to define the size and design of the tapestry in a way that fit with her own artistic vision and working methods. Maffei spent a considerable amount of time at the school, watching the girls study and play. The result was a 64″ x 168″ tapestry that, like the “New York Times” series, is a portrait, this time of a school and the artist’s memory of her experiences at the school. Maffei’s style is easily recognizable – the mixture of different viewing perspectives, the accumulation of a vast amount of narrative detail, the high horizon line, the use of pattern and the attention to two viewing distances – the further distance, at which the image becomes a broad composition of different areas, each a mosaic of pattern and color and the closer distance, where one sees the individual details of children playing ball and studying in the classroom.