Weavers Guild Finds Passion, Joy in Creating and Displaying Functional Works of Art
West Valley City – In 1971 the Mary Meigs Atwater Weavers Guild held their first art exhibit, showcasing hand-woven arts by fiber artists living in Utah. Although many of the members of the guild have come and gone since that first show, and some now live in surrounding states, “a few of us just keep going on and on,” explains Susan Hainsworth, member of the Atwater Weavers Guild and current Exhibit Chair of a new exhibit running March 10 through April 26 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City.
Artist Mary Atwater is referred to as “the Godmother of hand-weaving in the U.S.” says Hainsworth. “At the turn of the century, around the time of the Industrial Revolution, [machines] really destroyed and eliminated hand-weaving.” While working to rehabilitate the wounded during WW I, Atwater realized the therapeutic value of working with hands. Little did she know the effect these efforts would make on the resurgence of hand-woven arts throughout the U.S. “All these years later,” continues Hainsworth, “we feel like we’re students of hers in a way. She lived in Utah, here in Salt Lake City, for the last ten years of her life. She gave us permission to use her name for our guild.”
Of course over the years some things have changed in the weaving world. Atwater researched and published books about traditional styles of weaving and international designs that are still created today, but newer, more contemporary designs and techniques exist, too. Coverlets and the designs Atwater discovered in Guatemala, as well as a design known as Inkle – which is thousands of years old – are still created, but now computer drafting and computer-generated designs are fashionable. “Weaving has traditionally been done in square or rectangular patterns,” notes Hainsworth. “But now computers allow for designs that can be curved, and this [technique] is very, very contemporary.”
“Beautiful Threads: A Celebration of Utah Fiber Arts,” the Twenty First Biennial Show of the Mary Meigs Atwater Weavers Guild is Co-Chaired by Susan Hainsworth and Charlene Lind. The exhibit kicks off on Thursday, March 10 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and runs through April 26. In addition to viewing the items on display, the public is invited to meet artists, watch weaving demonstrations, and enjoy live music and refreshments at no charge.
For more information about this and other exhibits or events at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, call Michael Christensen at 965-5108 or visit www.culturalcelebrationcenter.org Exhibit sponsored in part by the Utah Arts Council and the Salt Lake County Zoo, arts and Parks Program.
Michael Christensen, Folklorist/Cultural Specialist
West Valley City | Utah Cultural Celebration Center
1355 West 3100 South
West Valley City, Utah 84119