Interview with A Textile Artist, April 2018
Aim: To understand the purpose, motivations and the processes involved in creating and exhibiting intricate works of woven fabric art by a textile and landscape artist based out of upstate New York.
About the Interviewee: Mary Flad
Born in 1938, Mary Flad is an avid tapestry weaver based in Poughkeepsie, a suburban town located in upstate New York. While Flad was not raised among weavers in her family, she frequently made a lot of her own clothing with help from her mother. As a child she was exposed to fabrics all the time and loved working with them. Mary Flad started weaving in Syracuse in the early 1970s when she had an opportunity to enroll with a weaver's guild. Initially she wove rugs, scarves and flat weave rugs, until she discovered her fascination for tapestries around the mid-70s. Although Flad's tapestry weaving practice is strongly influenced by Margareta Grandin Nettles' mid-twentieth century Scandinavian design principles, she has, and continues to maintain her own distinct style of woven designs. For Flad, weaving has always been a very social experience. Not only is Flad an active member of the American Tapestry Alliance but she has also chaired several craft groups, the most prominent one being the Empire State Crafts Alliance (now known as the Crafts Alliance of New York State). She also served as the first Director for the State Crafts Organization that was established in the early 1980s. With no formal education in the craft, Mary Flad identifies herself as a self-made weaver. She holds a Masters in Library Studies from the Columbia University and another Masters in Geography and Planning. Flad considers herself a very visual person.
The following interview discusses the interesting ways in which Mary Flad went on to successfully combine her academic knowledge with creative genius by transforming visual cues from natural environment to create aesthetically delightful tapestries. In the interview Flad also reveals how her experience of living in Thailand and working as a landscape artist and planner have time and again informed her work as a weaver