ABINGDON, VA. -- A tapestry entitled Washington County/July by fiber artist Nancy Garretson was recently unveiled at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon, Va. The weaving is the beginning of a public art collection at the library and was subsidized by a project grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
The piece was commissioned by the Friends of the Washington County Public Library to honor the memory of Shirley Fullerton Abell, who died in 2007; Abell was a lifelong supporter of the library and for many years the secretary of the Friends organization.
The three-dimensional weaving (48"x 32") features wildflowers projecting several inches from the surface. Garretson explains, "I was told that Shirley loved flowers and trees. I decided to do a landscape that would be typical of Washington County. In order to get flowers, which are small, and trees, which are very large, in the same landscape, I needed to have a long view which allowed me to have close-up flowers and trees in the distance. Mountains, a farmhouse, hay bales, cattle, fences and a country road filled up the rest of landscape."
Garretson began her work in June 2008 and finished at the end of October. She says, "It is a great honor to be asked to make something that will be on public view in the library's meeting room."
Garretson is a resident artist at The Arts Depot in Abingdon and has been perfecting her weaving techniques for more than 30 years. Her work has been commissioned for many public buildings throughout the region.
Here is how she describes her process: "Tapestry weaving is not the adding on of color to a surface as painting is. It is the creation of a whole cloth using threads of color. Both the illusion of depth and actual thread can be created. Tapestry cloth can be folded, draped, stuffed, or sewn to become three dimensional, and textures can rise up off the surface or can be woven in. Not only can colored shapes be woven into the tapestry, but also the tapestry itself can be woven into a shape."