(New Rochelle, NY) — The Lazarus Gallery of United Hebrew of New Rochelle, a campus of residences and services for older adults, will present a new exhibit of contemporary hooked rugs from the Hudson River Rug Hookers group. Rug hooking is considered both an art and a craft and The Hudson River Rug Hookers have embraced the art of rug hooking using new methods and new materials. United Hebrew opened its gallery in the new nursing home and rehabilitation pavilion in 2009. The gallery is an inspirational space that was created to enhance the lives of residents, family members and visitors.
The exhibit entitled “Hooked on Art” will run from March 4 to May 11, 2011. An artists’ reception will take place on Sunday, March 6th at 2:00 pm in the Lazarus Gallery at United Hebrew, 391 Pelham Road, New Rochelle, New York and will feature a rug hooking demonstration. The exhibition will be curated by Jodi Moise, president of JMC Art Partners of New Rochelle.
The modern day hooked rugs are a new artistic medium that has developed over the last quarter century. It expanded the traditional hooked rug with expressive possibilities using some of today’s most innovative studio techniques.
The Hudson River Rug Hookers, a contemporary hooking group of women, have been meeting in Croton, New York for 18 years with their teacher, Marilyn Bottjer of Eastchester. The modern rug hooker has found an alternative to simply pulling up loops of strips through the backing cut from wool fabrics. They are using other hooking techniques such as Proddy, punch hooking and decorative stitches translated into hooking stitches. Instead of the formerly obligatory 100% wool which is cut into narrow strips, they are recycling Tee shirts, felted sweaters, ribbons, metallics, yarns of all kinds, cottons, etc. They are appliquéing on patches, sewing on buttons and bows. Instead of using the traditional burlap backing which turns out to not be a very long lived material, the Hudson River group are using linen, monkscloth and rug warp. In addition to this art for the walls, they are also creating wonderful, usable rugs for the floor out of new wool and recycled wool clothing.
Called America’s one indigenous folk art, hooked rugs were primarily made to satisfy a practical need to give the illusion of manufactured carpets to rural homes. The popularity of hooked rugs was due largely to the importation of jute burlap from the East Indies beginning around 1850. The loose weave of burlap provides an ideal and economical base fabric for pulling up loops of strips of fabric to form a pile on the top side. The designs of the first rugs were drawn by the makers using patterns and scenes from their daily lives. Later in the century, and up to the present, many hooked rugs were made with pre-stenciled and manufactured patterns. Colors in these early rugs were as varied as any painter’s palette. Most early dyeing of colors was done with natural materials, with synthetic dyes expanding color choices later in the century.
As the 19th century came to a close, the popularity of hooked rugs waned as more affordable commercial carpets became available. Pockets of rug hooking continued with cottage industries throughout New England, and most importantly, the rugs made and sold through the Grenfell Mission in Labrador. The colonial revival period in the 1920’s and 30’s brought about another resurgence of hooking. Materials and tools were improved and more widely available. After World War II women, particularly, had more leisure time to spend hooking magnificent, finely shaded rugs which indeed seemed “painted with wool”.
Today rug hooking is enjoying a great resurgence in popularity with many makers returning to the early ingenuity and resourcefulness of original rug makers. It has spread across the United States and into other countries. The contemporary rug hooker enjoys creating original designs and dyeing colors specifically for that design. While many are still used as rugs, they are now considered an art form for hanging on the wall.
About United Hebrew of New Rochelle: United Hebrew is a vibrant not-for-profit, non-sectarian, multi-service senior living campus serving the Westchester metropolitan area since 1919. United Hebrew offers a rich array of skilled and community-based programs and services that encourages and supports a life of dignity and spirituality and promotes the highest possible quality of life. United Hebrew serves over 600 clients daily in its campus facilities — Willow Towers, a 126-unit assisted living residence; a 296-bed nursing home and rehabilitation center staffed with Burke Rehabilitation professionals; the 135-unit Soundview Apartments for seniors; a Long Term Home Health Care Program; and the AZOR Home Health Agency. United Hebrew which combines world class care with state-of-the-art features opened its new home in 2009. http://www.uhgc.org. For more information please call Linda Forman, Vice President of Community Relations, at 914.632.2804 x1224.