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Culture and Identity Serve as Common Threads in Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft Tapestry Exhibit

When people think of tapestry, they likely envision richly-colored medieval wall hangings covered in woven religious imagery— beautiful, but not necessarily a focal point in today’s art realm.

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft’s upcoming exhibition “The New Art of the Loom” shows just how much goes into these works.

With 24 tapestries by artists from 16 countries—as well as works by four local artists—the exhibition illuminates the ongoing, dynamic tradition of the loom in contemporary artistic practice worldwide.

Joey Yates, the assistant curator at KMAC, noted that looming has experienced several resurgences throughout history and it’s currently on the rise. He attributed this to a cultural move toward taking one’s time, or slow arts.

“It is part of another ‘slow movement’—kind of like slow money, slow food, this kind of artisanal renaissance for the handmade and the focus on the time that it actually takes to produce something,” Yates said.

The themes and execution of the pieces are varied—especially in the traveling international component to the exhibit which was curated by Dirk Holger

“So depending on where a person is from, who made the tapestries, there is probably a lot about their identities—whoever they are, whoever they are tied to,” Yates said.

Lexington artist Arturo Alonzo Sandoval has a piece in the local exhibit.

A Vietnam veteran, Sandoval made a tapestry about coming back from Vietnam and how he was treated as a vet, Yates said. The tapestry has newspaper articles woven into it, as well as an image of an American flag.

For Yates, these individual touches that cause this exhibit to resonate as truly contemporary.

“Contemporary artists are often dealing with a personal narrative,” Yates said. “And many of the pieces are just beautiful. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are coming to show with. There will be lots to look at; lots of vibrant colors, and things that you didn’t even know were possible to do on a loom with yarn.”

The exhibit opens Friday and runs through Jan. 25.

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