Taylorsville, GA USA
Ruth Simon McRae is an artist living in North Georgia who works in in a wide range of mediums, including textile arts, painting, printmaking, mixed media, and ceramics. She experiments with materiality and layering by merging complex color combinations, pattern designs, and textures.
McRae’s interest in textiles stems from a childhood surrounded by fabrics, from the fabrics in her father’s interior design studio to the fabulous clothes of the 1960s. She studied painting at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Philadelphia College of Art and textiles at Philadelphia University. Georgia Tech. These degrees provided her entrée into the field of industrial textile design, where she has enjoyed a long career in the floor covering industry.
This body of work combines McRae’s love of the practical and material with her spiritual life.
Judaic textiles can serve a multitude of functions in synagogue life – for use in prayer and simchas, as coverings for the bimah and ark curtains. In this case I focused on textiles to be used on the bimah.
The intention for these bimah coverings was to create evocative textiles with harmonious color combinations and nature-inspired imagery. Many traditional techniques were used to make the examples shown here, including indigo-dyed Shibori, wax resist, multi-hue dyeing, block printing, stitching, and a collage of antique lace and vintage materials. Materials used included silk, linen and cotton fabric and a wide range of embroidery thread.
I have a passion for the warmth and feel of textiles and am drawn to handcrafts and the textile arts. Textiles have layers of meaning, and I like to use Judaic textiles as canvases for expressing stories, histories, and rituals. I also want to create emotion with surprising and evocative color relationships enhanced by shape and texture. Throughout my career as a textile designer, I have been intrigued by complex, repeating pattern designs found in textiles, both historic and contemporary.
I began making talitot several years ago. My first tallit, “Trees,” was inspired by an experience of sitting in my backyard at dawn looking up at the sky through the trees. The fabrics used include a silkscreen design of abstracted tree shapes and branches made from a photograph of that night sky. This tallit is the first in a series of twenty four talitot, each revolving around a particular concept, such as landscape, and evocative combinations of materials. Each tallit was constructed over a fairly long period of time, with one material or section added in response to the last, like a painting. Many traditional textile techniques were used in making the talitot, including shibori, multi-hue and indigo dyeing, embroidery, and collage using antique lace and other vintage materials to create a harmonious whole.