ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — All of the weavings in Donna Loraine Contractor’s new exhibit at the Weyrich Gallery honor the precision and elegance of geometric forms and formulas as well as the beauty of color and balance. The show also celebrates Contractor’s new association with the Weyrich Gallery and owners Valerie and Gary Tibbetts.
“I knew Valerie and Gary casually before a mutual friend connected us in December,” Contractor explained. “They were familiar with my tapestries. When we started talking about working together, everything fell into place.”
Weyrich Gallery, which carries a wide range of fine arts and crafts and offers feng shui consultations, seems like the perfect place for Contractor’s Feng Shui series of tapestries. These colorful pieces combine symbols found in the I Ching with geometric forms.
“The colors in the Feng Shui series are an expression of one of the five Chinese elements, which are fire, earth, metal, water and wood,” said Contractor. “The I Ching symbols describe an ancient system of cosmology and philosophy that is intrinsic to ancient Chinese cultural beliefs centered on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process and acceptance of the inevitability of change.”
Contractor’s new show, “Feng Shui Plus,” features recent work from her Feng Shui and Universal Language series. Approximately 20 pieces of various sizes are in the show.
“The Universal Language series showcases mathematical ideas,” Contractor explained. “I’ve had geometric formulas in the background in past work, but in this series the geometry is in the forefront.”
Geometric proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem are incorporated into tapestries in the Universal Language series.
“I’ve taken the proofs and run them through different colors,” Contractor added. “I plan on using more proofs in future pieces.”
She could use a computer to help create designs and make color choices but instead draws out geometric forms on graph paper. Creating a window-like framing of the central design is part of her signature style.
“Sometimes people concentrate on the grill effect of the window, and sometimes they’re interested in what’s inside the window,” she said.
While images of colors usually float through her mind, she often takes clips of colored yarn and places them on the fabric to see how they look.
“There have been times when I felt nervous about my color choices and wasn’t sure if they would work out,” she said. “I questioned myself, wondering if I should choose something safer. But I’m pleased at the end.”
Tapestries are made from top-grade New Zealand wool that she purchases from a shop in Taos. She also finishes each piece on both sides, even though the process is extremely labor-intensive.
“I’m concerned with making an object that has integrity,” she explained. “I want my pieces to be able to lay on a couch or be hung in the middle of a room. If I only finished one side, it would feel half done.”