New York, New York
As a child, Nancy Koenigsberg loved to knit and crochet. Her higher education included studies in sculpture and painting. After earning her BA from Goucher College, Baltimore, she founded a successful custom-design needlepoint business in New York City. She continued her textile education at The New School for Social Research, which introduced her to international expertise in ancient and contemporary textile arts. As co-founder of the Textile Study Group of New York, her knowledge continued to expand.
Koenigsberg, 95, initially worked with cotton, wool, linen, and silk. Then she set her sights on constructing three-dimensional pieces requiring sturdier materials. For the past 20 years, she’s made wall works, freestanding pieces, and installations, all of which are woven, knotted, or crocheted from various weights and colors of copper, steel, and aluminum wire. At once delicate and durable, fragile and strong, repetitive and refined, the works’ interwoven lines, and the open spaces those lines create, reflect New York City’s gridded streets, which are “part of my DNA,” she says. Her work also references nature’s intricacies and the variegations found in the textile world in which she’s been immersed for decades.
Each artwork has distinctive character. Koenigsberg might cross wires into neat lattices, tangle them, or loop them together. She’s incorporated metal sheets in larger works, as well as folded and gathered elements in smaller pieces. At times, she incorporates beads, foil, fishing sinkers, or stones. “By enclosing objects within objects, and allowing space to filter throughout,” she has said, “I focus on the ambiguities between inside and outside.”
ABOVE: Enclosure I, 1992, coated copper wire, 24 x 48 x 24 in. Photo by Jean Vong. LEFT: Currents, 2016, coated copper wire, 28 x 28 x 3 in. Photo by Cathy Carver.
Koenigsberg’s work has been exhibited internationally and is collected by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and The Textile Museum, Washington, DC. “Though I employ innovative materials, I use traditional weaving and knotting techniques,” she says. “I fuse the past and present, the natural and the technological, which comprise our world.”
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