In 1983, I agreed to design a work of art for the foyer
of the new Performing Arts Building at the University of Montana. I'm sure our Dean
thought it would be terra cotta since I had done ceramic murals all over Montana.
However, after I visited the Helsinki Weaver's Studio, it occurred to me that a
design executed as a ryijy (a thick soft wool wall hanging) would be a perfect contrast to
the glass and brick in this building. Best of all I could design it and depend on
these excellent craftsmen to do it.
The Rya Tapestry was designed for the space between the stairwells leading to the entrances of "The Montana Theater." It was installed and dedicated on February 6, 1986 after four years of preparation. The design was completed by Rudy Autio, Professor Emeritus and was woven by Anneli Hartikainen with the assistance of Pirkko Sillfors of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft, Helsinki, Finland. The project was directed by Sister Kathryn Martin, Dean, assisted by Bryan Spellman, Administrative Officer for the School of Fine Arts and Eeva Pinomaa, Director of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft.
Funding for the project was made possible by Champion International and Finnair.