Highlighting the process through the design reminds us that tapestry is not just a vehicle for depicting images but also a piece of cloth. The conversation between the two dimensional nature of the cloth and the three dimensional world that is her subject matter will continue to be an active agent throughout the work we look at today.
Maffei’s emphasis on designing within the parameters of tapestry process and structure is also characteristic of pre Columbian weaving. According to Pierre Bordieu, “the act of working conditions … [weavers’] minds to think in significant ways….. the actual practice of a complex cultural activity such as textile work teaches people how to perceive and understand the meaning of it, and this understanding in turn changes and enhances the manner in which people practice their culture.”1 In other words, the practice of weaving produces a conceptual understanding of the medium that in turn influences the way the weaver perceives, and represents, the world. This fragment depicts a staff bearer, who like the figures in Who Sees Who? is defined completely within the geometry of the weaving. Although this image is more highly patterned than Maffei’s, it shares the underlying motivation in her work of letting the medium itself govern the rendering of the image.1 Pierre Bordieu, “Outline of a Theory of Practice,” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977 in Franquemont, E., “The True Treasures of Andean Textiles” in Traditional Textiles of the Andes: Life and Cloth in the Highlands, ed. Lynn Meisch, Thames and Hudson: London, 1997, pg. 31.