Tapestry focuses on the creative, constructive process. My work is a process of mixing dye, blending colored fibers and weaving them into a richly textured surface to create abstract images that convey meaning. I weave with hand-dyed yarns to create a surface on which the image is an integral part. The strength of the resulting image and what that image represents is the focus and result of my creative process.
I am influenced by the extraordinary landscape and the unique cultures of New Mexico. This influence is reflected in a personal aesthetic of simplicity, purity and portraying only what is essential. The source of my design inspiration often is found in meditation.
James Koehler came to the southwestern U.S. and to the weaving of tapestry by an unusual path. He spent the decade of 1977 to 1987 as a Benedictine monk in northern New Mexico. In the monastery Koehler learned much about solitude, focusing energy and weaving. “Whatever it was that drew me to the rhythms of monastic life, also drew me to the rhythms of the loom and to the rhythms of life as an artist/weaver.”
Currently, Koehler maintains an active studio in Santa Fe, NM. Not only does he weave tapestries but Koehler also teaches private students, works with several apprentices, and maintains a mentor relationship with many tapestry artists throughout the country.
Koehler’s tapestries can be found in private, corporate, and museum collections including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington, DC.