Frances Crowe

Frances Crowe Title Displaced Size 1 meter by 3 meters high res.


“It begins with a concept, a notion, or a thought.  Then I research and develop this idea into images.”  Frances Crowe is a renowned fiber artist based in Roscommon, Ireland.  While she lives and works in a country where the weaving community is small, her artwork has been recognized and exhibited internationally.  In 2017 Crowe was the first Irish artist ever selected to be a part of the International Fiber Arts Festival in Shenzen, China.

Crowe studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, originally with a focus on painting.  Textiles would open up a new world of expression. “I became fascinated by the work of some of the textile students. I had the ambition to marry textiles and painting together. As it was frowned upon for a fine artist to work in the textile department, I managed to learn some very basic skills from one kind teacher which I developed myself by practice over time.”  After graduation, Crowe would relocate to the quieter town of Roscommon in Western Ireland but maintain her tapestry practice.  She became a teacher in a community school for many years, but continued to experiment creatively and create commissioned works.  Tapestry has become an uncommon choice for fine artists.  For Crowe, the medium is an intrinsic mode of expression. “I believe it is the repetition and the slow process which calms me down. As I move fast and think fast much of the time. It is meditative and it feels good for the soul. I also love wool and yarns of any type. I adore colour and texture. I see it as painting with yarn.”

Crowe’s artwork depicts a dialogue with her surroundings that is both contemplative and imaginative.  Viewing her work often leads someone to be swept into her rumination.  Memory, emotion, and the storied scenery of Ireland have often been the focus of her tapestries throughout the years.  Crowe’s recent tapestry Displaced has taken the artist’s interaction with her surrounding into different territory.  The plight of Syrian refugees – their perilous travels over the Mediterranean Sea and search for a safe haven – led her on a journey.  Crowe studied The Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.  In this she found connections between the journey that her forebears took to North America and the current experience of Syrian refugees.  This process began with historical study and an examination of the current crisis.  Crowe then had the opportunity to teach refugees to weave and heard their stories firsthand.  This developed into dynamic artwork. Displaced is intended to tell a story of forced migration and its tragic realities for the diverse communities that share this experience.  With this work, the depth of Crowe’s ability pulls the ancient expression of tapestry through time to connect people of many nations and open a space for communication.

Displaced has a far-reaching impact.  Earlier this year, Crowe was invited to be a round-table speaker at the Premier International Tapestry Exhibition in Oakville in Toronto, Canada.  There, she discussed her knowledge and opinions about the future of contemporary tapestry as an art form.  Displaced was also on view at the exhibition.


Chalice of Memories



Helicopters in Water


The artist also engages communities through education.  Crowe continues to teach, but in a different capacity.  Her weaving studio serves also as a workshop space.  The whimsical setting is complete with a garden.  Crowe teaches both adults and children, and when asked, keenly describes how each population approaches art making. “Children are like an open book. They LOVE everything about my studio, the garden, the materials, the creativity, the process, and just having fun learning. The adults usually come with some preconceived notions about weaving a panel for the sitting room wall, only to discover there is a lot of learning involved, much practice, and development is very slow.  However, there is a growing community of eager learners out there of all ages.”  Dublin’s National College of Art and Design no longer offers a tapestry course of study.  Contemporary interest continues to grow, drawing people to workshop classes.


Turmoil. Frances Crowe


Since the completion of Displaced, Crowe has continued to explore social and cultural commentary through tapestry.  Turmoil is the story of what Crowe calls “the Graveyard in the Sea.”  It is another tragic image about the realities of current events.  “Since I finished weaving the Displaced piece, I immediately begun work on a tapestry which I call Turmoil. It has not been shown anywhere as yet. The image relates to a family struggling and becoming submerged in the ocean. I hope I have created a very beautiful tapestry about a very dark almost daily event happening in Europe.”  Next, she will explore new territory and introduce new materials: “Currently I am creating a new body of work based on the ‘Disappeared.’ People who leave home for one reason or another and never return. I am experimenting with new materials and hope to weave a shadowy almost transparent image of a mother and child. The warp is nylon yarn stretched over a homemade metal frame. This work will be shown at an exhibition in the Roscommon Arts Centre opening on August 11th 2019.”

Learn more about Frances Crowe and view this video from Mimar Media about the creation of Displaced here.

frances crowe in fornt of her latest tapestry titled Turmoil Measures 105 cm by 150 cm


Wild Island Studio – Nannette Foster



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Nannette Foster began designing jewelry to reconnect to the creativity that she’d left behind in her childhood.  Whisking herself away from corporate America to Kodiak, Alaska became an unexpected transformational process.  It inspired the long-lasting theme of Wild Island Studio.  Collecting found materials that wash up on the shore, seeing the value and beauty in what has been cast aside, is symbolic of her creative and spiritual rebirth.

Foster’s creative process also speaks to her compassion for victims of human trafficking.  The artist was kind enough to tell me more about her creative journey and how her sales help support Priceless Alaska in the fight against human trafficking.


For starters, where are you from and where do you live now?

Originally a Midwestern girl from the Kansas City, Missouri area, I moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. I moved from Nashville to Kodiak Island, Alaska in 2012 after what was supposed to be a summer adventure only. That’s how Alaska gets you.


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Why is metalsmithing your art form of choice?

I’ve always loved both art and working with my hands, but never landed on a medium. Discovering of decades old brass and copper washed up on Kodiak beaches was the catalyst. I was so excited and kept thinking, “I can’t believe someone threw this out. There is value here!”

I started out with cold connections while I lived in a tiny cabin, then worked out of a suitcase the year our family lived in a camper. As soon as we got our current home, I took over a room to use as my studio and got addicted to using a torch. There’s something empowering about controlling a flame.


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I was reading about how you began designing jewelry.  You were a creative child but left your creative pursuits to make a career in corporate America.  Then, you felt the need to create again, and you started with feather earrings.  Why feathers?

Feathers strike a chord in my spirit. They represent freedom, which is super important to me. I have a small “free” tattooed on my left wrist. My next tattoo will probably be a Feather right above that. Being a fairly driven person, I can get wound tight sometimes. It’s a reminder to me of the freedom that was gifted to me through Jesus. It’s not just a pretty thought, but a state of being. Like John 8:36 says, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”


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Why did you go from Nashville to Alaska?

My full intention was to spend one summer adventure volunteering with a children’s program in Kodiak. I had just gone through a divorce and was looking to branch out. I had the tropics in mind, but God had better plans. I still miss the warmth.

Transformation is a theme in your work.  Can you tell me more about that?

Transformation is my story in a nutshell, and I know I’m not the only one. My first summer in Kodiak I came to the island raw, vulnerable and insecure. Some people say that the veil between Heaven and Earth is thin here. My inner healing certainly accelerated that summer. The sea, mountains, colors of spring, soothed my soul.

I fell in love with life in Kodiak and came to know myself in a whole new way. I cried and danced my way through lively worship services, met the love of my life, unveiled my inner artist, and gave birth to my son here. After coming to Alaska broken, I am whole, confident, and unafraid. There is nothing I love more than to see beauty bloom through the mess.


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What is your favorite piece that you have made?

I spend so much time with certain statement pieces, they tend to be my favorites. I like my big dragonfly pendant. Dragonflies represent transformation, and I used almost every technique in my toolbox on that one.

What is your favorite color and why?

Definitely turquoise! It’s that color of clear ocean water from an aerial view. I could stare at it all day. My Cherokee grandmother passed on some of her Navajo turquoise jewelry to me. It’s been my favorite since childhood. That’s why I love working with US mined turquoise.


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Your long-term plan is to eventually teach survivors of human trafficking.  What inspired you to set this goal?

This issue has been on my heart for a while. Last year I was able to begin donating both time and a portion of my profits to Priceless Alaska to address this issue in our state and town. Because freedom is so important to me, I have a deep desire to support those taking brave steps toward realizing their own freedom. It’s one thing to provide a way out. But once that first step is complete, ongoing support is extremely important, especially with regards to replacing livelihood. My dream is to be able to employ survivors of sex trafficking and provide them with training in a new skill set.


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Human trafficking is a global issue – one that impacts communities without most people realizing it.  Urban settings have the highest rates of trafficking with people being taken off of the streets.  In a remote setting like Alaska, how does this take shape?  In the cities, or elsewhere?

This is such an interesting question. Most people think of trafficking as kidnapping and physically holding individuals captive, usually for a commodity in the sex trade. While this is sometimes true, captivity can manifest in much more subtle ways in small towns, villages and rural areas. In Kodiak, one example of a vulnerable population are 18yr olds exiting foster care. Those with no job and nowhere to stay are easily coerced into trading sex for a couch. This is an entry point to forced prostitution. After that, control/manipulation/fear tactics and drug addiction create an invisible fence. They appear free, but the captivity is real.


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What do you love most about Alaska?

I thought about this for a while. And what sums it up is connection. Up here, life is slower and simpler. It’s easier to maintain a connection to people and community. With the wild and untamed at your doorstep, connection is deeper to nature and wildlife. Spiritually, I am decidedly more connected since coming to Alaska, and I also find I am more connected to myself and my own story.


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