Tommye McClure Scanlin


The symbolism of the Phoenix, like the mystical bird itself, dies and is reborn across cultures and throughout time. Ancient legend paints a picture of a magical bird, radiant and shimmering, which lives for several hundred years before it dies by bursting into flames. It is then reborn from the ashes, to start a new, long life. So powerful is the symbolism that it is a motif and image that is still used commonly today in popular culture and folklore.

The tapestry cartoon of Phoenix was based upon earth pigment paintings I’d made in response to wildfires in the southern Appalachian mountains during the fall of 2016. Those fires, as have the ones in California and Canada in recent years, have transformed the lands dramatically. As I wove the tapestry I began to realize that there would be life & growth again. At the end, I began to incorporate small bits of green among the charcoal and rust/orange colors.

I am an artist who observes and responds to my surroundings for inspiration. My primary artistic medium is handwoven tapestry, an ancient method of transforming fibers into images. As I seek ideas to interpret into tapestry I experience my surroundings closely as I can. Photographs, sketches, paintings, and writings are all part of my creative process.

I have been living in the southern Appalachian mountains for most of my life and my surroundings are filled with natural forms of woods, streams, and fields. My eyes are frequently drawn to the myriad of details of the landscape and many of my tapestries are based on aspects of those details, simplified and enlarged in a weaving.

by Tommye McClure Scanlin
Handwoven tapestry with wool, cotton, linen
60 x 34 x 1 inches


Tommye McClure Scanlin is Professor Emerita, University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, a life member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a member of Piedmont Craftsmen, and a Fellow of Hambidge Center and of the Lillian E. Smith Center. She teaches workshops in tapestry weaving and also designing for tapestry. Locations for her workshops have been Arrowmont, John C. Campbell Folk School, Penland School of Crafts, and Peters Valley Craft Center.

This Artist’s work is in a private collection and is Not For Sale.

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