A Modern Artist’s Response
Repetition was an overriding design element in all the weaving of ancient Peru, flowing from the very act of weaving itself. The weavers were capable of infinite variations within these repetitions. Since all weaving is done in a grid, the weavers of pieces like these discovered ways of working within the grid that made it no easy task for the viewer to break down the elements and discover the underlying structure. In fact, if one looks carefully, their designs are based on sacred geometry and the golden mean, mathematically based design principles that are still commonly used today. As I worked on creating my own art pieces in response to textiles like #3 (77.209), I was amazed at how the weavers incorporated stair steps into the grid to achieve what appears to be a much more complex design. By combining this with a sophisticated use of color, they played with the figure-ground relationship, causing designs to recede and come forward. I can’t help but wonder if this reflects the dualism endemic to the religion and society of ancient Peru.
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"I still remember the feeling of awe and disbelief when I was alone and walked in the room with those casts." --Ruth Tofle, chair of architecture, winner of the 2013 distinguished faculty award from the MU Alumni Association