I have always been drawn to this wallpaper design. It is a beautifully rendered stripe pattern created using differently-scaled photo enlargements of rose stems. The varying thickness of the stems and the color contrast create a wonderful flow to the design, and while it is a strong design it’s not too heavy. One thing I find so striking about this design is that it goes against the grain of the usual wallpaper connotations, which are welcoming, endearing, or charming. This is especially visible in the media, on movie sets, even cartoons. If the producers are trying to create a “homey” feel that is inviting and not threatening they include pattern on the walls. But if you look closely at this design those are some pretty large thorns on that central stem. Ouch! This is not the usual stripe pattern found in these warm and charming interiors. This is wallpaper with an edge! But I must add that the concept and skill in execution definitely outweighs any inherent danger seen in the motif. This is one of twelve wallpapers by Tarkowski in the Museum’s collection, several of which are non-traditional takes on very traditional design formats including stripe, plaid or trellis patterns, and polka dots. And most include unexpected elements such as broken table legs, Standard drains, and meatballs.

Christine Tarkowski is a Chicago-based artist who works in a variety of formats including sculpture, printed matter, photography and song. Her works range in scale from the ordinary to the monumental. Equally variable is her scope of production which incorporates the making of permanent architectural structures, cast models, textile yardage, and temporary printed ephemera. Many of her earlier works involved wrapping walls, both interior and exterior, with repeating imagery that totally transforms the structure. One of her projects leading up to the production of this wallpaper involved lining the windows of a Woolworth’s store, post liquidation, with mothball-printed panels, incorporating unexpected yet humorous imagery.

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