Needlepoint artist draws inspiration from around the globe

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A gallery in downtown Los Angeles is paying tribute to a textile artist who created her own unique form of needlepoint art. The artist being honored is 80-year-old Jan Haag.

Haag grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but lived in Los Angeles for more than two decades. She developed her needlepoint technique during a period of extensive travel for her day job.

As the founder of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, Haag launched the careers of many notable female filmmakers. And at the same time she launched her art career.

MUKHRA/TUKRA/CHAKRADAR IN TINTAL & RUPAKTAL (1996-2001) Single strand Persian wool; double strand Appleton wool; lace wool, partly Kashmir; silk yarn; rayon yarn; cotton and viscose yarn; cotton, silver and gold thread on 18 mesh canvas, Continental stitch in all four directions. Approximately 154,548 stitches. Dimensions: 18 x 26 ½ in

Between 1975 and 2008, Haag created twenty-three needlepoint canvases, working on some of them at the same time. One work took ten years to complete.

GREAT-GRANDMOTHER’S LEGACY (1982-1987) Double strand Persian wool on 14 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions. Approximately 47,736 stitches. Dimensions: 13 5/8 x 17 7/8 in

Haag left AFI to pursue an interest in eastern philosophy. She lived and studied in an ashram in India, pouring the sights and sounds and smells of the country into her textiles. Haag also lived and studied in China, Thailand, Nepal, Russia and Mexico. The results are packed with color and symbolism.

PALIMPSEST (1991-1992 & 1995) Single strand Persian wool, double strand Appleton wool, gold, silver and silk thread, on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions. Approximately 67,473 stitches, 424 stitches per square inch. Dimensions: 17 x 12 ¼ in

Needlepoint has long been considered an antique, domestic craft, but Haag is credited with transporting the artistic medium into a world of adventure and discovery. Haag approached her needlepoints without a plan, allowing herself to be carried along in the process of creation, one stitch at a time.

KALACHAKRA (1981-1991 & 1995) Single strand Persian wool, gold thread, on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions. Approximately 107,254 stitches. Dimensions: 24 3/4 x 13 3/8 in

Pieces from the Haag Needlepoint Collection are on display at MB Abram Galleries in downtown LA. You can see a video from the opening night here, including some of the artwork created in response to Haag’s textiles:

Jan Haag Event from MB Abram Galleries on Vimeo.