Laurie Wohl – Fiber Art Wall Hangings

Unweaving, Entrance Lobby, Monmouth Reform Temple
Tinton Falls, NJ

Unwoven canvas, acrylic paint, modeling paste, beads
Suspended from a specially-crafted semi-circular cherrywood armature.
The Unweaving is 50” x 36”, and the depth of the armature is 7”

This Unweaving fiber art piece was commissioned by Monmouth Reform Temple to be placed in a glass case in their entrance lobby. The text selected – embodied in both Hebrew and English – is based on Deuteronomy 28:5 – the Ashreinu prayer:

“Blessed are you in your coming and blessed are you in your going.”

The Psalms Project, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

unwoven cotton canvas, modeling paste, collaged art papers, acrylic paint, beads
10 of the 12 pieces are 9 ½’ x 2’

The Psalms Project was commissioned for its sanctuary by Fourth Presbyterian Church, an immense cathedral-like grey stone structure in the heart of downtown Chicago. The project consists of 12 pieces – 3 pairs for the interior pillars, 1 pair flanking the altar, 1 pair for the entry to the narthex, a pulpit parament, and a small piece for the secondary pulpit. The commission celebrates Ordinary Time, the calendrical time without holidays. The meditative texts are from the Psalms and prophets, embedded in the Unweavings in Hebrew and English. The choice of texts was left up to the artist in consultation with the arts administrator. The forms relate to scroll work in the sanctuary, and falling waters.

The use of Hebrew is a corollary of the congregation’s immersion in its Old Testament roots, and its commitment to interfaith dialogue. A nearby reform congregation regularly holds High Holiday services in the sanctuary. 

Text examples:

The form of the pulpit parament alludes to falling waters and incorporates Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is for God’s people to dwell together in unity.” 

The entry doors to the narthex are scroll-like in form.  Together they form a gate to prayer, reminding worshipers to carry a prayerful life into the world. At the top of the scrolls, Psalm 84:4-5, “Happy are they who dwell in thy house,” reinforces the joy of prayer and commitment. In the middle, Psalm 91:11-12, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” alludes to the comfort of God’s protection as we go forth in our lives. And towards the bottom of each scroll, from Micah 6:8-9, “What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” underscores the ethical imperative of commitment to social justice. 

Fiber artist Laurie Wohl is internationally known for her unique Unweavings, liturgical projects, and interfaith message. Her works are held in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, American Bible Society, Constitutional Court of South Africa, Catholic Theological Union, and numerous other public and private collections. Her works have been on loan to the U.S. Embassies in Beirut, Vienna, Tunis, Cape Town, and Pretoria.

”Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory” – Wohl’s interfaith project relating poetry and spiritual texts from the Convivencia to contemporary Middle Eastern poetry in the context of her Unweavings fiber art pieces –  has traveled nationwide from 2013-2022 to various educational and interfaith venues.  Her current work – The Shabbat Project – travels through 2022 to venues in California, New York City, and Vancouver.

Laurie Wohl lives and works in New York City and Southwest Wisconsin