William Kentridge: Weaver Marguerite Stephens

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In celebration of Art21’s forthcoming feature film William Kentridge: Anything Is Possiblepremiering October 21, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) — the Exclusive series is devoting the month of October to telling stories about Kentridge’s numerous artistic collaborators whom we’ve had the distinct privilege of meeting these past few years. This is the third of six episodes.

Episode #124: Weaver Marguerite Stephens discusses translating the artist William Kentridge’s original concepts into intricate, large-scale tapestries. Located in Diepsloot (a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa), the Stephens Tapestry Studio employs a team of local weavers, spinners, and dyers who work on vertical looms using mohair spun in Swaziland.

Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century’s most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—William Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge often uses optical illusions to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions.

William Kentridge is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Compassion of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch full episodes online via PBS Video, Hulu, or iTunes (link opens application).

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Artwork Courtesy: William Kentridge. Special Thanks: Marguerite Stephens & Stephens Tapestry Studio. © 2010 Art21, Inc.

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the associate curator at ART21. Miller co-curates the television series Art in the Twenty-First Century. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.
  1. Pingback: William Kentridge: Weaver Marguerite Stephens / Art21 Blog « word pond

  2. A fellow artist friend recently told me about ART21 and how humble & amazing William Kentridge is as an artist. While checking out the website, I was impressed & inspired by just the small bits I was seeing at a fast glance. Then to click on the blog link and find this wonderful story about Weaver Marguerite Stephens and her fellow weavers…..I was utterly delighted!

    These tapestries look awesome in the truest sense of the word. The texture and large scale bring strength & life to the images.

    In previous years I worked with tapestries in the Textile Department at the Art Institute of Chicago…..I would love to see these tapestries and drawings exhibited there or at another grand museum.

    Congrats to the artist, weavers, skein winders, dyers, spinners, etc.

    Jeanette Durand (Artist -Painting and Textiles)

    Reply

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