Ambassador Program

Louise Martin
A Forgotten Day Remembered, 2021
Linen, cotton and silk warp and weft 
25 cm x 26 cm

About the Ambassador Program

The Ambassador Program is an initiative developed by the American Tapestry Alliance featuring artists working outside traditional Western European tapestry techniques (Gobelin for example), but are creating work that either explores specific cultural relationships with materials and tapestry techniques or who are exploring the interconnections of threads that are adjacent to tapestry. Each Ambassador provides ATA members and supporters with a presentation about their work and the opportunity to engage with the artist after the presentation. Usually held twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring, the program is held via Zoom and recorded so that members can watch at any time. Please consider joining as a member to receive our monthly newsletters that provide the dates of upcoming presentations. 

Upcoming Ambassador Events

Drawn to the art from a young age, Louise Martin completed her art foundation on the Isle of Man, before moving onto Middlesex University. During a degree in Constructed Textiles, she was introduced to weaving, tapestry and knit. Of these, the freedom of expression and techniques in tapestry offered the greatest appeal. Graduating with 1st class Hons, Louise moved on to a Masters in Applied Arts at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. Martin has since traveled widely as a teacher and speaker. Periods of residency abroad continue to be pivotal in her work. Spaces with which to be static, to absorb and respond; Mongolia, Iceland, Turkey, and Finland. Exploration is central, rather than preconceived results. Martin’s description of one of her recent works, “Woven without shed and on a loom warped to the shape of the piece, freed from the usual grid of perpendicular warp and weft. Edges take on a freedom of line. Warp no longer flows top to bottom but instead at myriad changing ever-crossing angles. Warp becomes a cluster of yarns of varied weight, color, and luster, interlocked to change mid-loom.” Louise Martin is the recent winner of both the Cordis Prize for Tapestry and the Kate Derum Award. Martin will share her work and experience on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at 8 am Pacific/11 am Eastern. Register for the FREE event here. 

Previous Ambassadors

Fall 2023

Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre is the home of a unique experiment in creative weaving that has produced tapestries admired and collected by museums and galleries around the world. The life work of its founder Ramses Wissa Wassef, (1911-1974) was dedicated to realizing the innate creativity of ordinary young Egyptian villagers. Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre at Harrania, not far from the Pyramids of Giza, has for the past seventy years been the setting of this remarkable undertaking. There, Ramses, an architect, potter and designer, set up a tapestry workshop to be used by the local village children. With neither formal education nor artistic training the children were introduced to the craft and guided from then on in a rather extraordinary way. Ikram Nosshi and Suzanne Wissa Wassef, directors of Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre, gave a Zoom talk about the history and programmatic approach to creating community-centred tapestry production on Saturday, November 4th, 2023. Go here to listen to the recording.

Spring 2023

Meghann O’Brien, who is a Northwest Coast weaver working in the traditions of basketry, Yeil Koowu (Raven’s Tail), and Naaxiin (Chilkat) textiles. She is descended from the Kwakwaka’wakw village of Weḵaʼyi Tʼsakwaʼlutan (Cape Mudge), the village of Kiusta, Haida Gwaii, and Dublin, Ireland. Meghann has apprenticed under master weavers and traditional teachers Kerri Dick, Sherri Dick, and William White. Her artistic process is one of devotion to the highest expression of the art form, preferring to allow the weaving to find its own place in the world once completed. Meghann’s work is distributed between public and private galleries, museums, collectors, family, chiefs, dancers, and ceremonial people. Meghann provided a wonderful talk on April 8, 2023. Please go here or here to see a recording of a similar talk that Meghann provided.

Fall 2022

Włodzimierz Cygan resides in Poland and exhibits his work internationally. In an interview with the artist, Cygan shares the following: “When trying to determine why the means of artistic expression in tapestry was becoming archaic, I realized that one of the reasons might have to do with the custom of treating the threads of the weft as the chief medium of the visual message. . . .Yet fabric consists of both warp and weft. . . . These observations led me to wonder how the artistic language of textiles might benefit from . . . a warp whose strands would not be parallel and flat . . . but convergent, curved or three dimensional.” Cygan explores the dimensional aspects of weaving, playing with the directionality of warp threads, and recently has incorporated optical fibers as a material. Please check out his recorded talk here.

Fall 2021

Kevin Aspaas spoke about his experiences as a Diné weaver living in Shiprock, NM, who explores his connection to the deep cultural roots of Navajo cloth production from raising sheep, growing cotton, natural dyeing, and weaving fabrics and rugs. In addition to weaving with the wool he harvests from his flock that he shepherds, Kevin Aspaas also cultivates a variety of cotton crops that he spins by hand. Continuing the legacy of traditional Navajo weaving structures and designs, Aspaas uses natural dyes cultivated from the Southwest including cochineal and prickly pear fruit. Go here to hear his talk and be inspired by his Native traditions.