MARY GILES (American, 1944 - 2018)
Fire Field, 2017
Waxed linen, iron wire, copper wire, brass wire, and red wire
36" H x 58" W x 3" D
It was when Mary Giles was preparing to teach weaving to a high school class in the late 1970s that she discovered basketry forms and proceeded to develop techniques through workshops with fiber artists. Inspired by indigenous art, Giles also sought out and learned from Native American basket makers.
In Giles’ work, one will find the traditional basketry technique of coiling alongside contemporary materials of waxed linen, copper, and iron. She has always been influenced, not only by the character of the materials she uses, but also by place. Her earliest works reflect the underwater world she experienced while scuba diving. Later, she spent many summers in New Mexico and her work reflected the landscape forms of the Southwest. Since retiring, she has been inspired by the woods and the river where she now lives. “I am inspired by the light on the river, shadows in the woods, and the textures and colors of the water, rocks and trees.”
A native Minnesotan, Mary Giles was born in 1944 in St. Paul and resided on the St. Croix River, north of Stillwater until her passing in 2018. She received a BS in Art Education from Mankato State University in Minnesota and went on to teach art in the Twin Cities and St. Louis, Missouri. Her work has been displayed in numerous galleries and museums in the United States, at the Barbican Centre in London; she represented the U.S. at the International Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland. In 2013 she was named The Master of Fiber Arts by the Renwick Alliance of the Smithsonian Museum. Her work is included in the collections of over a dozen museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts where Giles’ Dark Kiva (1994) is currently on display.