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Martha Opdahl

Martha Opdahl, Arroyo Seco #3, 2002, tufted and sheared wool pile, acid dyes and cotton backing, 81 x 51 in. Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Gift of Martha Opdahl in memory of Arlene LewAllen, 2011 (2011.7) © Martha Opdahl

Martha Opdahl

American, born Peru, 1940

Martha Opdahl is a very accomplished weaver, expert in the art of hand-dying wool and a peer of numerous other artists at the forefront of redefining weaving and fiber arts. She is extremely articulate about the history of textiles and the work reflects the influence of various cultures. As she says, “My aesthetic is influenced by non-Western textile traditions. From Japan, I draw a sense of asymmetry, clarity of line and purity of form. From sub-Saharan Africa, a sense of off-beat, rhythm counterbalanced by orderly structure. From the Andes, a wealth of variation within a limited vocabulary of motifs. From Southwest native traditions, a penchant for strong silhouettes and for contrasts between hues rather than value progressions.” Opdahl consciously adopts domestic skills of earlier generations of women, and women in Latin American countries. Like many women artists of her generation, she came to an art career by way of women’s work, specifically quilt-making. She subsequently went on to study Latin American studies and textiles, which are inspirations to her work.