Wenda F. von Weise, Quilted Tapestry Designer, 1943–1984
1984 CLEVELAND ARTS PRIZE FOR VISUAL ARTS
Throughout her whole life, Wenda von Weise was a pioneer.
In 1959 she left her aristocratic New Jersey home to get married and
move to Ohio, although she was only 17 at the time. At 26, she created a self-directed, part-time program at the
Cleveland Institute of Art so that she could continue her education
while raising her two young sons. She was to become a trailblazer in
the incorporation of other media into the art of quilting. And, when
she eventually returned to the CIA to teach, her innovation and
exploration of new methods in quilting would inspire the next
generation of fiber artists.
interest in quilting was anything but old-fashioned. As “artists
explored forgotten techniques and incorporated the new technologies
available to them,” says Ohio quilt historian Gayle Pritchard, what
would come to be known as the “surface design” movement fairly
“exploded onto the scene.” Von Weise had always been interested in two
things: fabric and photography. For her, the marriage of the two was a
natural: as a student at the Cleveland Institute, she majored in
textile design with a minor in photography. She also studied under
Robert Rauschenberg, who was already combining multiple nontraditional
media with great success.
Even as a reenergized art of quilting gained new popularity, von Weise’s work continued to lead the way for her fellow quilters. “Wenda von Weise’s silk-screened images were so radical for that time,” says quilter Elaine Plogman of encountering the exhibition Ohio Patchwork ’76, which featured some of von Weise's cutting-edge work. “ I didn’t know what to make of those.”
Weise was offered a scholarship to pursue her MFA at the renowned
Cranbrook Academy in Michigan. She continued her study of fiber arts
under Cranbrook’s eminent director Gerhardt Knodel, who was head of the
fiber program at the time.
Cleveland Arts Prize
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