Friday, November 19, 2010

Designer of the Month: Trude Guermonprez

Week 3: Pond Farm Workshop, other teaching positions and "textile graphics"

 Trude Guermonprez, Small Banner, 1965. Oakland Museum of Art, The Tapestries of Trude Guermonperez, Introduction by Hazel V. Bray (Oakland, CA: Oakland Museum, 1982), Published in conjunction with the exhibition “The Tapestries of Trude Guermonprez” shown at the Oakland Museum, 13.

In 1949, following her resignation from Black Mountain College, Trude Guermonprez taught at the Pond Farm Workshops in Guerneville, California, where a friend from her school days in Halle, the potter Marguerite Wildenhain, another Bauhaus-educated craftsperson, along with Wildenhain’s husband and a group of artists, were attempting to create their own version of a an ideal educational setting.[1] The objective of Pond Farm was to facilitate:
…a place where artist-craftsmen live…The school of the Pond Farm Workshops offers students the opportunity to serve an apprenticeship under the artists of this group. It is their belief that the essential demands of life, work, and art can better be taught in contact with a productive workshop than academically by theory or class room training. The interchange of ideas and experience of students with teachers, and of one workshop with the others, leads to more integrated and basic work in the special fields, while as a group of workshops they can solve together problems related to architecture, industrial design and production.[2]
Pond Farm, while having an academic focus, was never actually a college. Instead, the school adopted the title of “workshops” in order to help situate the academic focus of the school within the craft community. Like Black Mountain College, Pond Farm Workshops was only open a short time, from 1949 until 1953, holding the idea of small artist community with workshops built-in to it at its core.[3] Guermonprez spent her time teaching classes and workshops both at Pond Farm and in San Francisco, where she developed a class entitled “Elements of Textile Design” at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute.[4] During this time Guermonprez also taught summer sessions at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, now the California College of the Arts, where she was hired as full-time faculty in 1954, and where she remained until her death in 1976, acting as faculty as well as chairperson of the Division of Crafts.[5]

 Trude Guermonprez, section of Spring, ca. 1970. Cotton, wool, linen, viscose, metal, lurex, and plastic. 1993-121-35, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York.

The 1950s and 1960s, following her tenure at Pond Farm, was a time of technical exploration for Guermonprez.[6]  In 1951 she completed her first Self-Portrait.  This piece, along with the pictorial Leaf Study, is a precursor to a group of what Guermonprez was to refer to as her “textile graphics”, and which would become the basis for later work.  As she discussed about the decision to create a self-portrait and the process of doing so:
I had married again and perhaps found a new reason for being. Self-portraits seem to be milestones of such moments…Thinking still of the angular forms which are characteristic of straight weaving techniques, I made a cubist portrait which then mellowed out from the structure of weaving and the overlapping colors of the weft.[7]
These textile graphics, while similar in nature to her pictorial weavings, expand upon her earlier method of graphic representation.  Here, she concentrates more on choice of woven material and technique, in a manner that provides layers of meaning and interpretation through the use of imagery.  Unlike her later work, Guermonprez spent the majority of her career creating pieces that were much more abstract in nature, using shapes, colors, materials, and pattern to suggest imagery. This was also a period when Guermonprez spent a lot of time experimenting weaving with nontraditional and new materials, such as metal, viscous and plastics.

[1] Jan Janeiro, "Trude Guermonprez: A Quiet Journey," Surface Design Journal, (Fall 1991), 6.

[2] Tim Tivoli Steele, “School of the Pond Farm Workshops: An Artists’ Refuge,” A Report From the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum 10, no. 2 (1992).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Yoshkio Uchida, “Trude Guermonprez,” Craft Horizons, (March/April 1959): 30.

[5] California College of Arts and Crafts, “Trude Guermonprez” Technology into Poetry,” The California College of Arts and Crafts Review, no. 5 (December 1982).

[6]  Jan Janeiro, "Trude Guermonprez: A Quiet Journey," Surface Design Journal, (Fall 1991), 8.

[7] Ibid., 8.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments - they mean the world to me!