THE Gynocratic Art Gallery

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August 2016 – The Pull of the Needle: Diana Weymar and the Landscape of Cloth

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The Pull of the Needle: Diana Weymar and the Landscape of Cloth

by Amy Meissner

In any environment there exists an Inevitable Season, an undercurrent that

informs inhabitants of what to do, where to go and when. In the far north, despite

the intensity of summer’s light-stretched days, all birth and impossible growth and

exhaustion, the scent and thrum of winter always exists on the periphery, waiting.

Sometimes we look askance, whisper its name. To have this adamant ghost as

part of the landscape at any point in one’s life — childhood, adulthood,

parenthood — builds an unrelenting understanding that never entirely leaves the

psyche. The creative impulse can’t be ignored or set aside for another day,

because the time is now, the time is now, the time is now.

Winter is coming.

When first introduced to images of artist Diana Weymar’s contemporary

embroidery, I felt instantly connected to its tactile, insistent quality. I lingered over

folds and layers of the intimate stitched work and manipulated found objects,

considered her steps, her thought process. It wasn’t surprising to learn she spent

part of her childhood in northern British Columbia, Canada, a vast, unpredictable

landscape, hinged to shifting light and season. As a northerner, I recognize the

persistent need to shape and create forms that explore the existing or

unremarkable objects of a life, honoring hand skills, self sufficiency and a

demand to question, create and transform. With magnetic intensity, we point to

cloth, object and back to the self.

Insistent work exists on the knife edge of manic and necessary. Deep in the

creative act — when a maker isn’t bound by time, nor considers it a constraint —

lies the realm where insistence is most obvious: hundreds — no, thousands — of

marks or movements that could be made any number of faster ways are instead

layered with a mind-bending slowness, considered, punched and then pulled


We could take a photograph. We could type a thought. But what lodges a

memory more deeply in the mind than the physical experience? If there are life

moments we’re unwilling to forget, questions we’re compelled to mine, then we

turn to the physicality of making. Weymar’s manipulation of memory is evident in

her handwork; the use of images, text and objects, yes, but time, itself, has

wound its way in and around each knot. Memory becomes another layer, re-

remembered, perhaps even permanently altered through the process of making.

For women artists who maintain a studio practice when their children are young,

there are seasons when the domestic landscape is just as bleak as the most

northern, contributing to the slow unraveling of self. The historic significance of

reaching for cloth isn’t lost on contemporary needle workers and fiber artists,

many of whom are mothers. Cloth is understood despite the inevitability of its

migration, abandonment and constant unearthing in and around the demands of

children, family and home. When I discover other artists who’ve embraced this

form, without apology, without question, without some historic burden of craft

versus art, I’m immediately in kinship. The work provides a way of existing in the

slow moment while still exercising the tireless will, despite the surrounding chaos

that wants always to draw us away. As generations of women understood, the

pull of the needle is an urgent companion. We seek the tool, it disappears

beneath our hands, it re-emerges again. It represents a balance.

There are many reasons why one would stab a needle into cloth, not all with the

intent to create beauty although this may emerge. Some of the impulse I

recognize in Weymar’s current textile-based work arises from the unrelenting

need to repeat and refine, containing one’s thoughts to this realm of repetition.

By slowing the hand, the mind is held to the landscape of cloth, but within it is the

freedom to wander and expand, fully considering the next word or stitch before

each plunge, embracing the luxury of the tautness of thought. When onlookers

remark on the likes of us hunched over this old way of working, it’s often with,

“Oh, my mother embroidered,” or “My grandmother was a seamstress.” But what

stories did those women bury in cloth? What narratives hid, folded and silent in

their laps? Which unspoken words were couched in that drum of a hoop? Mark

upon mark, stitch after stitch, they may well have been their best selves in that

stolen time, blanketing, transforming and fully ruling that remote land.



Amy Meissner is an artist and writer who spent 7 years in British Columbia before

being drawn farther north 16 years ago. Her award winning contemporary textile

work has exhibited nationally, and is in the permanent collection at the

Anchorage Museum and various private collections. She currently lives with her

family in Anchorage, Alaska, cleans trash off remote beaches in Prince William

Sound each summer and blogs about the collision of history, family and art.

The following images are from Weymar’s newest body of work, she continues to work on the series (summer 2016).

The following series by Diana Weymar is titled Telegraph Creek.

(*click on the first image to move into a slide show view, images will then enlarge.)

Weymar created the work below as part of the Victoria Writers Festival in 2013.


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The John Mcphee Sampler, works by Diana Weymar

Diana Weymar’s series Artifacts 2013-2015.

Follow Diana Weymar at

and from her website:

EFOMB DW - Danielle photo

And read more from Amy Meissner as well as to see her textile-based work at at


One comment on “August 2016 – The Pull of the Needle: Diana Weymar and the Landscape of Cloth

  1. Annette Sercerchi
    August 1, 2016

    Hope you are not offended because I Do admire your work but the first piece for work with the nights made me think of my Mum losing a breast to cancer so many many years ago…


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