A strong aesthetic informs every work I create, regardless of its subject, intent, source of inspiration, degree of abstraction, or means of production. I want the viewer to have an immediate visual experience even when the subject is not recognizable and other aspects of the work may be unfamiliar or not easy to grasp. Formal properties have always drawn me to the artwork I enjoy the most: I like the way it looks.
Equally in love with urban and industrial places, I am fascinated by functional surfaces—walls, floors, pavements—on which human beings have left their marks either intentionally or unwittingly. These traces tell us about the human condition. When I translate my photographs of walls and other hard surfaces into the “soft” medium of Jacquard weaving and then present them on a wall, their function as surface changes. Their textures rendered in threads, they may bend or tilt our perspective, or simply become doubled (a wall on a wall becomes a new kind of wall). Overlooked features in the environment, such as fluid leaking from a parked car (the subject of What We Do) have an abstract beauty that transcends the mundane.
BETTY VERA received her B.F.A. in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art and holds an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Montclair State University. She studied textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design, and Jacquard weaving at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles and at The Jacquard Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. She currently lives and has a studio in western Massachusetts.
Vera’s work has been exhibited widely and has been published in American Craft, Fiberarts, Surface Design, Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot, and Interiors magazines, as well as several editions of the Fiberarts Design Book; Marypaul Yates’ book, Fabrics: A Guide for Interior Designers and Architects; and Carol K. Russell’s international survey, Fiber Art Today.
Formerly an art and craft book editor, she maintained her own studio in New York City for 20 years. During that time, she also worked on several large commissioned projects as a weaver in the Michelle Lester Studio. Vera taught fiber arts at Montclair State University and the Fashion Institute of Technology, and continues to teach intensive workshops throughout the United States. She has been a Visiting Artist at both Syracuse University (New York State) and NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Artist residencies include the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA).
Vera was awarded New York State Craft Artist grants by the Empire State Crafts Alliance three times. She has also received project and exhibition grants through Artists Space; a Ruth Chenven Foundation Award; two Strategic Opportunity Stipends (in 2009 and 2010) from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts; and the Handweavers Guild of America’s Silvio and Eugenia Petrini Grant. In 2012 the New York Foundation for the Arts selected her to participate in its NYFA MARK 12 artist career development program.
My landscape-inspired work is not literally representational, though it may evoke a sense of space or the impression of a horizon. It is concerned with the abstract geometries of the spaces we inhabit. Color and hand-woven texture provide an expressive visual language.