At first glance, Figures with Still Life, designed by Ruth Reeves, looks like a modern art painting. I did a double take when I realized it was, instead, a screen printed textile on plain weave. Throughout her career, Reeves designed a variety of objects in modern styles including tapestries, wall hangings, wall fabrics, carpeting, and dresses.

Figures with Still Life was completed in 1930. The bold geometric shapes and soft curved lines reflect the contemporaneous influences of two of my favorite twentieth century art movements, Art Deco and Cubism. The detailed adornments on the figures’ clothing and various surfaces add a decorative beauty that draws the eye to continuously return and find something interesting to discover.

I enjoy art and design that represents daily life. Figures with Still Life depicts three women carrying fruit and fish to a table near a window. The table holds fruit, a goblet, and a carafe. The scene is familiar and timeless.

Figures with Still Life was intended for use as a wall hanging over a studio bedroom or in a hall. Decades later, I can imagine it gracing my living room wall with its simple and warm palette of dark and reddish browns, tans, and off-whites. This lovely textile illustrating everyday life is inviting and beautifully woven together.

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