In Case You Ever Thought That Lila Nelson Was Repressed

While visiting Lila Nelson this week, she showed me the tapestry on her loom.  Relatively small, only the top half was visible, revealing abstract shapes in dark saturated hues.  She started with a black and white cartoon,  intended as totally non-representational.  As she wove, however, the image was revealed – the collapsed I35 bridge.  A blue patch near the bottom was clearly water and the upright dark shapes the broken supports.  It makes sense that she was working this out, a tragedy that happened only blocks from her home.

Lila is very happy with her weaving right now.  “I’m feeling so much freer” she told me.   I asked which yarn she is typically using in her tapestries these days.  “Oh, anything I have.  I make it work.  I’m feeling so much freer.”  Those of us who have known Lila and admired her work for many years would question – was there a time when Lila seemed anything less that totally free and true to her own vision?

As we chatted, I noticed the rya pillows on her sofa, and took some photos.  It’s fun to examine the denseness of various rya pieces; how many rows between the knots, how thick the yarn, how many strands in each knot.  As I took one of the pillows Lila made many years ago into the strongest light, I noticed that the colors in the pillow were exactly the same as the most recent tapestry still wound on the loom.  They are clearly the colors Lila loves, deep, saturated, bright.