Suspended Harmonies: Fiber Art by Ted Hallman, a one-of-a-kind installation, will be on view in the Pfundt Gallery of the Michener Art Museum from November 3, 2012 until March 3, 2013.
Hallman has been a leading figure in modern textile design as an art form since the late 1950s. He influenced an entire generation in the emerging fiber art movement he had helped to raise in stature.
“The installation at the Michener is a brand new exploration of synthetic materials such as plastic tapes woven into vertical armatures creating tree-like forms,” says Michener Director and CEO Lisa Tremper Hanover, who curated two Ted Hallman exhibits before joining the Michener. “He plays with wire and colored streamers of cords and tape to create floating clouds and plant canopies. Visitors will, themselves, weave through the installation.” Most of the components for this installation were created in summer 2012 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“There’s a certain joie de vivre in everything Ted Hallman creates,” writes Jessica Shaykett in American Craft Magazine. “The exuberant fiber artist is a master at combining parts into a greater whole, whether arranging compositions for the pipe organ, spinning lively narratives about his life, or crafting exquisitely woven wall hangings. For five decades, his fiber works – with carefully concocted color and multidimensional texture – have sung of harmony and wonder.”
Born in 1933 in Bucks County, Hallman’s father, H. Theodore Hallman, was a painter of regional renown – his paintings are in the permanent collection of the Michener. His mother was a school principal and an art teacher who made her own clothes and taught him to make garments when he was 4. “As a child there was so much encouragement for me to develop my own creativity,” says Hallman. “Both of my parents had attended art school, and the house was full of works in progress.”
Hallman Sr. had studied with N.C. Wyeth, and was head of the art department at Westchester University. He offered painting classes for the community on Saturday mornings, and Ted, who started painting at age 3, attended.
He created his first weaving, a small tapestry, as a Cub Scout, and in fourth grade created a fiber rendition of the nervous system and built a floor loom in his last year of high school, on which he made fabric for clothing and coverlets.
Hallman earned a bachelor’s degree in painting from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1955. At Cranbrook Academy of Art, he earned MFAs in both painting and textiles. In the 1960s, he reinvented Moore College of Art’s textile department.
In 1975 he became Head of Textiles at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, where he developed summer programs for students in Florence, Paris and Kyoto.
Hallman’s interest in education led him to earn a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Elected to the American Craft Council College of Fellows in 1988, Hallman has traveled the globe, teaching college students, researching textiles and meeting textile artists. He continues to research and teach today.
“I thought of myself as a weaver, and here they wanted me in an art museum,” Hallman said as the Philadelphia Museum of Art sought to include several of his works in their permanent collection.
Hallman’s work is in the permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Craft Museum, and the Victoria and Albert in London, among others.
The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, Pa. Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm;
Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm. Admission: Members and children under 6, free; adults $15; seniors $13; college student with valid ID $11; ages 6-18 $7.50; under 6 free. For more information, visit www.michenerartmuseum.org or call 215-340-9800.