A New Old Thread

At this month’s Design Miami, tapestry, that fusty realm of unicorns and Renaissance battles, is staging a comeback. The exhibition Demons, Yarns and Tales—an unusual collaboration between 15 artists and Banners of Persuasion, a spin-off of the Rug Company—offers a contemporary take on a stor­ied art form. Christopher Sharp, who founded both companies with his wife, Suzanne, explains that much of the medium’s appeal lies in its difficulty: it took Chi­nese weavers eight months to a year to complete each hyperdetailed work. “Tapestry is so time-consuming and expensive to make,” Sharp says. “In the age of instant gratification, it obviously became less popular.”

The show’s modern imagery should put to rest the notion that tapestry is a mere relic: Jaime Gili scatters triangles into architectural planes; Kara Walker silhouettes a lynching over a Civil War–era illustration of an African-American orphanage being burned by a mob; and in Beatriz Milhazes’s Carioca (first image shown here), a riotous flower explodes from an Art Nouveau–inspired background. “I think people are going to be completely shocked,” Sharp says. “Hopefully, it will generate other people to think about tapestry again.”

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