Michigan born, Mary Zicafoose received her BFA from St. Mary’s College, a small women’s liberal arts college, the sister school to the University of Notre Dame. Between the two art departments she received an inspired art education. Her graduate studies occurred at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Nebraska.
Mary’s fascination with color, pattern, and cultural cloth began as a child with a scrap of ikat fabric given to her by her travelling aunt. After many formative years of art school and art teaching, she found myself seated behind a loom, weaving rugs. Gradually the rugs began to migrate off the floor, up the wall, becoming tapestries. It is here that Mary has spent her career in pursuit of visual surprise on the flat woven surface, through the evolution of painterly dye processes combined with ageless textile techniques, and an unabashed infatuation with color and scale.
As a young artist, seeking to make my work in cloth more painterly, Mary explored the relatively obscure resist dye technique of Ikat. Three decades later, she remains joined-at-the-hip with this compelling and complex textile process.
Mary strives to be an inspirational presence in the textile and art world. She is co-director emeritus of the American Tapestry Alliance, and formerly served on the board of Goodweave, an NGO dedicated to eliminating child labor in Southeast Asian carpet factories. Mary’s work is exhibited and collected internationally, included in the collections of sixteen United States Embassies on four continents. Her studio practice has for the last decade been focused on creating large-scaled tapestry installations for public buildings. Mary’s teaching practice embraces decades of lectures, keynotes, and mentorship in the making and celebration of cloth. Her most recent contribution to the textile field is the Interweave Penguin/Random House book, “Ikat: The Essential Handbook to Weaving Resist-Dyed Cloth,” released in Fall 2020. Mary’s home & studio are located in rural Cedar Bluffs, NE.