~ "My real love is to explore subconscious communication through art and time." ~Nancy

Shards Tapestry

Fiber Art in Public: Nancy Kozikowski


Interview questions:


  1. When did you start to learn art? Please talk about several important things or teachers in your early art training.


My mother and grandmother were artists so I grew up in a studio. I have been drawing as long as I can remember.


  1. Why did you choose weaving as your main art form?


When I was about 13 years old I decided to be an artist. Every culture has artists.  So I feel that being an artist is a relevant commitment. I painted portraits, made mosaics, and batiks.

While in high school I saw a Native American Navajo woman weaving a blanket in a trading post. I asked her to teach me to spin. She taught me to buy, wash, pick, card and spin wool on a long spindle. I went to another teacher who gave me a book on natural dyeing. To build the loom I went to the Fred Haryey Museum of Indian art to find a loom. I did a drawing of the loom. I drew every thread, knot, stick, and beam. I went home and built a loom. I wove a striped piece. I entered it in the science fair at school under Chemistry ( Chemistry, because I needed to add alum, for a mordant to the dye process, which made the whole project relate to Chemistry.) I dyed with onion skins. I got a blue ribbon (Recognition). After this I decided NOT to be a weaver. It was too much work. I made hooked rugs. I also painted Murals at this time.

About ten years later, after I was Married, my husband and I were living in Oregon. He was teaching at Oregon State University. When his job came to an end, he needed to get a Doctors degree to go on teaching. He and I were both artists so we decided to stay where we were and figure out how to make a living as artists.


The art at that time was POP art and OP art. This didn’t interest me. We were living in the forest. We were surrounded by 20 dye plants, there were sheep down the road and we were in the forest so we had all of the materiels to build a loom. So we started by teaching Navajo Loom building. After a year of card weaving and some research we bought three looms in one day. One was 8 feet wide and required two weavers and took up our whole living room. We felt we could do bigger pieces than anyone else. I took a class in weaving. I found that Tapestry weaving, like Navajo weaving, was what I liked most because it was like painting a picture.


   I was studying Picasso and his work.  One of the things I learned from Picasso and his lifestyle was that as an artist you could study and try anything and everything. I like painting and all my weavings start with a drawing or a painting. But each medium expresses the design differently. The wool fiber is hallow. The dye color goes inside. Each fiber has a light side and a shadow side. All of these surfaces of the fibers are reflecting a dynamic color. I believe this medium i.e. wool projects the design of the piece farther and more clearly than a painted surface. The soft texture is also reflected. The commitment and labor of a woven piece also are obvious in a weaving and demands respect.

Woven work does demand maintenance; vacuuming periodically.


  1. Please talk about your community art project “Liberty Blanket”.


  1. Please talk about your community art project in the City of Albuquerque which invited many people to take part in such as the president.





  1. is for last two community art projects, why do you think it`s important to involve the public to take part in?


When I came to SongZhuang to participate in the 2007Art Festival we wove the ‘Thread of SongZhuang’ 184 people participated.

Watching some one weave is still a mystery. If you do it yourself you see and feel the process. Watching someone ride a bike or swim is different than doing it yourself.



  1. Please talk about your art project in the ABQ International Airport.



The 1% for Art program I mentioned in the last question is a department of the City of Albuquerque, mandated by law, to spend 1% of the building cost for all city development projects. As a result, Albuquerque has built a significant public collection of art of which I am honored to be a part.


When the Airport did a major renovation I was invited to submit a design for a tapestry. I had just completed the large 5 foot by 24 foot Entwined Serpents tapestry for the Delaware Group in Philadelphia. For the Albuquerque Airport tapestry design concept I took the Entwined Serpents design and scaled and simplified it into a new visually dynamic contemporary image that could be seen the length of the airport about 900 feet. The tapestry, called Runways, is the result and we are please it greets us whenever we return home. 




  1. Please talk about your art project in Bernalillo County Courthouse.


In the 1970’s Janusz and I wove an 8 foot by 30 foot tapestry as a special commission for the Phoenix Arizona Hyatt Hotel. The design we did was a contemporary variation of a traditional Native American Chief Blanket requested by the Architect. The scale made the design very dynamic.

After 20 years the Hyatt was sold and remodeled. They called to see if I was interested in buying back the tapestry, which I did. I figured I could find a home for it somewhere.

We heard about the project for the new Bernalillo County Courthouse which was still on the drawing board. We met with the architects who loved the tapestry. One wall of the Atrium in the building was all windows. They removed a row of windows to create a space for the tapestry. The tapestry can be viewed from all of the floors in the building.  They also took design elements from the tapestry and used them in the designs for the stair railings and signage. We love the way Nancy’s designs were woven into the architecture of the building.  





  1. Please talk about your art project in the Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York City.


“Blue Tallit”

I was on the plane returning from installing the Entwined Serpents tapestry for the Delaware Group in Philadelphia. I was sitting next to a gentleman named Nels Berg. Nels was the project manager for the renovation of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City working with the famous Chinese architect I.M.Pei. Nels introduced me to Mr. Pei who loved the colors in my tapestries. The design I did is called Blue Tallit which means Prayer Shawl. The piece also represented the flames of the Menorah (Jewish candelabra)

I often like to do tapestries of weavings; weaving the history of weaving into contemporary designs. The tapestry is 14 feet square. It was woven in two sections fitted together. It was an honor to have worked with Mr Pei and Mr Berg to bring my design to life.





  1. Please talk about your art project in American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)

“Pot Shards”

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists national organization built their association headquarters the foothills of the Sandia mountains of Albuquerque. When excavating the site for the building Native American bones were discovered. A few miles away are the ruins of an antient pueblo. This pueblo is so old that it is almost completely buried.  Pottery fragments were unearthed there, one of which had a design signifying water and friendship. The pottery fragments reminded me of pottery I had seen in China like the Yellow River Painted pottery. My design for the tapestry included Native American and Chinese pot shards. I put in the Chinese word for bone on one of the shards as part of the design to honor the Indian bones found there, and as a nod to the X ray Association and their relationship to the study of bones.


  1. Please talk about your art project in Congregation Albert.


This piece is called “Covenant”.

I love designing this piece for a synagogue. Every week people sit in this space and this piece will be a part of their experience. I want it to be simple enough and interesting enough.

The piece includes a Rainbow which represents a gift from God representing a covenant with the world to not destroy the world by flood again. The Black and white below the rainbow represents Gods creation of night and day. Below is the Hebrew word for Jerusalem. Below that is a lute to represent David the first artist who composed the Psalms in the Bible ( he was King David and the David of David and Goliath). Behind is a prayer shawl, designated by the stripes on the ends. Behind the prayer shawl is the Torah, the foundation writings of Judaism. The red patterns on the right represent the chaos and the trials of life and the blue patterns represent peace and eternity.     


  1. Please talk about your art project in Sandia Resort & Casino.

These 6 pieces, each 8foot by 12foot, hang in the hotel lobby.


  1. Please talk about your art project in UCLA, Las Angeles, CA.


I wondered if I could weave wool to look like silver. At the time that I was planning this piece Frank Geary had just completed the Disney Center in Las Angeles. This spectacular building exterior walls are covered with Stainless steal, a metallic finish that looks like a combination of silver and pewter.  In this piece there is a subtle, fan shaped section that represents my attempt to weave a surface from the Geary building. My piece evokes the color of the ocean and and a suggestion of waves.  





  1.  Since you have so many art works in different public places, what do you think about the relationship between the art piece and the public space?

I feel very blessed to be a part of so many people’s lives. Large Public art works become land marks. People often tell me that the “Runways” piece welcomes them home to Albuquerque. I feel that my large tapestries reflect their environment and the local culture, and my expression and love. When a piece of art is part of the environment it becomes a subconscious presence, you don’t have to think about it, but if it’s gone you miss it. I want my work to become a part of peoples lives.


  1. Many of your works have woven borders, but you always break them. Why?


About Borders; Many years ago I did a weaving that was my attempt to do a piece in the spirit of a Persian carpet. I used a flat, Kilim, technic. This piece had many borders. When I completed the piece and looked at it it felt like a self portrait. It made me sick. The many borders appeared to represent all of the responsibilities of my identity ie. Mother, wife, sister, daughter, Catholic, etc. These borders were like chains that I felt binding me. I felt constricted. It was around this time I realized I had to come to terms with being a woman artist. I still like borders but now they are not boundaries. 


  1. Some of your works are “weaving of weaving” such of belt, some are “weaving of pottery”, do they have any special meanings?

I am a portrait artist.

By doing a weaving of a weaving, a portrait of a weaving, I am removing it from it’s original function (blanket, rug, belt, clothes), causing one to look at my piece differently, as a piece of art. The art work isn’t just a weaving, it’s about weaving, and history and art. Same with weavings about pottery.




  1. Most of your weavings are three-dimensional with shadows and the subtle colors changing. Please talk about your color and three-dimensional design.

I am a painter.

One can mix any color with paint. As a weaver I have to dye all of the colors I want. I need about 40 shades of every color, including white and black. It takes almost as much time to dye and prepare all of these colors as weaving. As a painter I like illusion. To do a weaving of a twisted belt or a pot one needs all of these shades to create shadows and the illusion of light and depth.



There is an issue between “Art” and “Craft”. The issue has to do with function. Fine art is for art sake and intellectual. Craft is for practical use. Weavings have been used for carpets, blankets, or clothing etc. But what about the designs on the weaving? What about the patterns on a carpet? These patterns communicate something more than the function of the object. These patterns reflect the artist and the culture he came out of, i.e. art for art sake. Same with pottery. 

As a painter I like illusion.

There is an issue between “Art” and “Craft”. The issue has to do with function. Fine art is for art sake and intellectual. Craft is for practical use. Weavings have been used for carpets, blankets, or clothing etc. But what about the designs on the weaving? What about the patterns on a carpet? These patterns communicate something more than the function of the object. These patterns reflect the artist and the culture he came out of, i.e. art for art sake. Same with pottery.  


  1.  Some of your work are concerned with native American culture, Spanish culture and so on. please talk about the culture influence and topic in your art.

New Mexico Culture has been defined by Native Americans who have been here for melinia  and the Spanish settlers who came 5 hundred years ago. “White Americans” came 100 years ago.


  1. Which artists or art forms influence your art?

Picasso, Wm. DeKooning, Frank Stella, Ad Reignhart sp? African Kuba cloth, Ancient Chinese art, Native American art, Spanish American art. 


  1. If dividing your art journey into several stages, what do you think about it? Please talk about the changes and characteristics of your different stages.


Looking back over the years t seem like the biggest influence on my work was what studio I was working in and my age and experience at the time. When you look at my body of work chronologically, you can see style shifts as I changed studios. It started in my mother’s studio, then the work I did in college, after I was married my studios in San Francisco, and Oregon. The Mendalanes New Mexico studio in northern New Mexico where we lived and raised our 4 kids for 12 years was a big influence where. Then moving back to Albuquerque doing some big commissions and then going to China, working with Professor Lin at the Tsinghua University studios, and my studio in Song Zhuang. I love my Song Zhuang studio because of the skylights and easy access to art supplies and services. John and I love our experiences and educational opportunities by living in China.





  1. What do you think about the future of fiber art in public space?


I think Fiber Art has a strong future in public places for all the reasons I have been attracted to it all these years. Fiber is what weaves communities and cultures together throughout space and time. Fiber art is a vehicle to express cultural design motifs and symbols to diverse audiences with cultural nuance. Fiber Art in public spaces is strong visually relative to cost and usually has acoustic softening effects within an environment.