Elizabeth G. Kuhn

Barred, 1999

Double-weave pick-up

48" x 42"

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Not everyone takes successful social interactions for granted.  Sometimes a person can be in the midst of compatible companions, surrounded by friendship, and still feel isolated and unable to let go and join the camaraderie.  Whether the cause is depression, lack of self-esteem, loss of self-confidence, or any number of factors, there is an inner constraint which bars this person from participating fully in social situations.

The subject of this weaving is social withdrawal, which sometimes occurs as a result of mental illness and/or a state of depression; or can just be a manifestation of shyness.  Either way, the person has trouble identifying herself as an accepted member of the group, leading to feelings of being barred from social participation.  It makes no difference that the separation from others comes from within, and is purely psychological; the self-imposed feelings of isolation are the same as if the exclusion had come from the group itself.

In this weaving, the person who is unable to join in is seen in the center, set off from her companions by means of actual bars which are the physical representation of her psychological prohibitions, and also by the absence of the plaid used in the coloration of the other figures, denoting her feelings of being "different" from the others.  These bars melt into the background and re-emerge at the border, dividing the piece in our minds according to what is in front of the bars and what lies behind them.  In front are the members of the group, talking and laughing with each other, and interacting in all the normally acceptable ways.  Surrounding them is the circle of clasped hands, serving as a border to the weaving, and signifying friendship and unity; while the touching finger tips in the corners symbolize the ability of people to connect on an emotional level.  Alone behind the bars is the central figure, unable to connect with others, while at the same time longing to do so.  The point at which the bars disappear from our vision, which is the place on the weaving where the interacting figures are positioned, is the point at which the isolated figure has a chance to overcome her isolation and to emerge on the same plane as her companions.  This signifies the process of emotional and/or mental healing, which is the true essence of what this weaving is about.

Exhibitions of Barred
  • The Practiced Hand: Surface Design & Textiles, Warner Gallery, South Bend Regional Museum of Art, South Bend, Indiana, 1999
  • Messages and Meanings in Woven Cloth, (MFA Exhibition), Gallery 138, Kent, Ohio, 2000
  • Arts 2000: The Beginning, Bush Barn Art Center, Salem, Oregon, 2000 (Honorable Mention)
  • Uncommon Threads: Contemporary Regional Textiles, Museum in the Community, Hurricane, West Virginia, 2000
  • Sixteenth Annual Greater Midwest International Exhibition, Art Center Gallery, Central Missouri State University, Warrensburg, Missouri, 2001
  • 4th International Open, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, 2001
  • Fiber Arts 2001, Gallery 510 Arts Guild, Ltd., Decatur, Illinois, 2001
  • 28th Annual Northern Lights Exhibition, White Bear Center for the Arts, White Bear Lake, Minnesota, 2002 (Award of Merit)
  • The Woven Comment, Thomas More College, Crestview Hills, Kentucky, 2002
  • The Woven Comment, Ginko Gallery, Oberlin, Ohio, 2003
  • Layers of Meaning: The Evolution of Pick-Up Double Weave, Flaten Gallery, St Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, 2003-2004
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