Elizabeth G. Kuhn

American Tank Cloth, 1991

Double-weave pick-up with supplementary weft

20" x 19.25"

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American Tank Cloth was conceived as the Gulf War was coming to a conclusion. United States citizens were exhilarated over a quick series of military successes. The news abounded with talk of martial hardware and technology, and the expression of the day was "Yo!" This piece is a statement concerning the collective state of mind of the American people at the conclusion of the Gulf war, a reflection upon our national culture at a given period of time in our history.

The format for the American Tank Cloth is patterned after the Indonesian ship cloths, which feature a large ship as the central motif. In and around the ship the people, flora, and fauna of Indonesia are depicted. This inner section is surrounded on all four sides by an elaborate, sensuous border of floral or geometric designs.

In the American Tank Cloth the tank replaces the ship, and soldiers and implements of war replace plant, animal, and human depictions. From a distance, the border of the tank cloth, as in the ship cloths, appears to be inviting, harmonic, and pleasing. Upon closer inspection, however, the gas masks, machine guns, and airplanes jolt one back into the realities of war.  These images of death, destruction, and survival are reinforced by the stark colors of the military and the red of blood.

Exhibitions of American Tank Cloth
  • Fiber Concepts Now, A regional Exhibition, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, 1991
  • 5th National Fiber Arts Competition, Creative Arts Guild Galleries, Dalton, Georgia, 1992 (Honorable Mention)
  • Fiber at the End of the Century, Corvallis Arts Center, Corvallis, Oregon, 1994
  • Texas National '96, Stephen F. Austin State University Gallery, Nacogdoches, Texas, 1996
  • The Woven Comment, Thomas More College, Crestview Hills, Kentucky, 2002