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Susan Martin Maffei, Two Men, 30" x 10", 1992

Two Men also shows a combination of spatial conventions. The image presents a cut away of a house, or apartment. The position of the men, one seated with his legs folded and the other leaning against a door affirms their three dimensionality, but the uniformity in the size of the floor tiles and the bright, strongly contrasting colors flattens the image into a collection of shapes and patterns sitting on the surface of the cloth, which is, we might hear the artist reminding us, exactly what it is. On the second floor the low ceiling, the steeply angled floor and the bed with its own lines of convergence further confuse our understanding of the space. Finally, are we to understand the top line of the building as the roof line, or the converging of the two walls of the third floor, or both? Instead of using the techniques of tapestry in the service of the image, Maffei seems to be using the image to point out the conventions of representation. Or perhaps she is searching for the point at which each serves the other.

Susan Martin Maffei, Dominoes, variable, 2001

Two Men demonstrates Maffei’s interest in developing the narrative of the image, in this case three floors of a house, in a vertical manner, congruent with the process of weaving the image on the loom. This approach is also the modus operandi in Road to Haleakala and Kula Road. The roads wind up the mountain, dipping out of sight as they drop into valleys. At the same time they sit on the surface of the image like a flat ribbon, barely changing width as they climb up the tall, steep mountain. In contrast to the insistent bottom to top directionality of the piece, a bicyclist flies down the road from top to bottom. This fascination with finding imagery which mirrors the direction of the weaving culminates in Dominoes, New Zealand, in which Maffei plays a game of dominoes with her self as she weaves the tapestry. In Dominoes she has woven individual playing pieces for a set of dominoes. The form this particular game takes is oddly reminiscent of the animal imagery in this Middle Horizon fragment.

"Dominoes New Zealand" 25" x 4.5", 1993

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