Revolutionary Threads

Art ReMix; Helena Hernmarck; Glimpse

Helena Hernmarck
Swedish, b. 1941, active in the United States
Glimpse, 1974
Wool and linen; weft-faced with discontinuous weft patterning
The Adele Roller Fund and gift of Mr. and Mrs. Myron T. Kerr, Jr., 97.74
Gallery 340 — On view


Helena Hernmarck works in the traditional art of tapestry weaving, but she has honed a unique and revolutionary style during her 40-year career. Born in Sweden, she received a traditional education in Swedish textile production in Stockholm before moving to Montreal, London, and finally Connecticut, where she maintains an active studio. Her approach to imagery, which she calls “superrealism,” interprets a snapshot of something ordinary at unexpected dimensions, most often using tremendous magnification. The intention is to jolt the viewer into a new frame of reference. The varied texture and complexity of color in Hernmarck’s interpretations result from her technique, which involves weaving bundles of threads of various thicknesses and hues, known as “butterflies,” into the tapestry.

In Glimpse, the architectural dimensions of a town seem to shrink when seen from a bird’s-eye view. The inspiration for the 11-foot tapestry was an aerial photograph by William Garnett, which Hernmarck clipped from a 1967 issue of “Life” magazine. Glimpse was originally commissioned for the lobby of the Diamond-Shamrock Building in downtown Cleveland. Though the original photograph depicted Hatfield, Massachusetts, it had the small-town feel that its Ohio patrons wished to evoke.

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