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Exhibit: rya rugs… coming of age – Elizabeth Hunter

Fiber artist Elizabeth Hunter returns to our Nordic hall with her show: rya rugs… coming of age.

Her pieces reach beyond that of a woven rug and tackle topics such as deforestation and aging.

On display through May 15th | Contact us for viewing times


I first learned to weave on an inkle belt loom at a girl scout meeting when I was ten. In high school, I drove from my home in Stamford, CT. to nearby Greenwich to learn floor loom weaving from fabric designer Klara Cherepov.

Simplicity, color and shape are key elements of Scandinavian design. They consume me from time spent in Oslo, Norway; Reykjavik, Iceland; Torshavn, Faroe Islands and Landskrona, Sweden. Sculptural knitter Katherine Cobey taught me that fibers can speak and be political.

I hold a BA in English from the University of Connecticut; a MA in journalism from American University; a certificate in weaving and design from Fri Untervisngens Tegne og Vevstue, Oslo. I am a former Maine Crafts Association board member; the secretary of the Pastel Society of Maine; and a volunteer at the Brick Store Museum. My work has been shown all over New England. I live in Kennebunk.


Rya is an ancient pile weaving technique dating from the 9th century when Vikings introduced Scandinavia to textiles traded from Russia and the Byzantine Empire. The pile is created by using the Turkish Ghiordes knot across a row on the loom. After each row of knots, the shuttle is thrown several times to form the back of the rug.

The woven rugs, which imitated sheep- skins, were worn by mariners against the frigid cold at sea. They were also used in carriages and as bedding.

Rya rugs are probably most associated with the Scandinavian mid-century modern era, with their bold color and graphic design.