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Sarah C. Swett, Untitled and unfinished, 2015-, tapestry weaving and embroidery
“As for the ‘hybrid’—the whole thing is too new just now for me to have much at all to say, other than that I have recently been spinning fine yarn and weaving plain tapestries and somehow the two have wanted to go together. I embroidered before I wove so identify with the medium on a primal level. — SCW, from an email 12-31-15
Sarah C. Swett, Please, Can you Pass me my Knitting? 31″ X 24″, 2015, photo: Mark LaMoreaux. Hand woven tapestry. Wool warp and weft, natural dyes.
Sarah C. Swett ,”Who Is In Charge”, 12″ x 10″, © 2001. Hand woven tapestry; hand spun wool warp, wool and silk weft; natural dye
Sarah C. Swett, 10″ x 14″, “I Dunno” © 2003. Hand woven tapestry; hand spun silk warp and weft; natural dye
Sarah C. Swett, “Miss Havisham’s Cook”, 36″ x 48″, © 2004. Hand woven tapestry; wool warp and weft; natural dyes
It might be said that my tapestry career has consisted of one long series of selfies. Looking back, however, I find it hard to distinguish between the tapestries for which I was ‘myself’ in a particular situation (the true selfie), and when I was acting as a convenient and inexpensive model attempting to embody some nebulous creative idea—Sarah as artist/director/ designer trying to get Sarah the handy actor/model to do what she (director Sarah) envisioned: “no, no, put your foot like THIS! And take your hand out of your hair!” Dutifully, I would attempt to do ‘this’ (or not), while director Sarah would madly try to capture the image—early on with pencil, paper and mirrors, (Who Is In Charge? , I Dunno), later sometimes using the thrilling convenience of a digital camera (Miss Havisham’s Cook), and most recently (“Please, Can you Pass My knitting”), choosing deliberately loose and simplified images drawn without reference to anything external.
All, in their way, are infuriating and satisfying at once. “Who IS that person?” “I Dunno!”
Stepping back from the memories of those sometimes fraught, sometimes fun encounters, I also see that every tapestry is, in some fashion or other, a self portrait. Certainly my body of work is a form of unintentional biography. A still life of the objects on a table is as much ‘me’ as a nude or even an image of another model. Color, light, yarn, composition—all cannot help but be reflections of thought, belief, likes and dislikes as they change through time. Call it self-portrait, selfie, solipsism, or a vision of the universe through one pair of tiny green/brown lenses, tapestry has been the means by which I have captured this life so far, in cloth. —SCS