Born in the Bronx, Amy Supton (formerly Amy Vietze) learned to work in fiber arts before she learned to read. Her preschool teacher taught her how to make crepe paper into yarn and her first grade teacher taught her to embroider and appliqués. These techniques stuck with Supton into adulthood and became the foundations of a rich body of work spanning weaving, ceramics, water-color, and pastels.
Supton spent her early 20s in Detroit, Michigan (1965-1969), Berkeley, California (1969-1970), and then moved to Nashville, Tennessee (1970-1984). While in Detroit she picked up sewing from artist friends and made quilts, daishikis, and elaborately embroidered clothing. Her identity as a craftsperson emerged and a career in the arts unfolded. In Berkeley, she took loom weaving and rug-making classes from store-front shops. There, tapestry- and rug-maker German immigrant Kaethe Kliot taught Supton the techniques she still uses to this day.
Upon moving to Nashville, Supton was immediately introduced to other weavers and became a fixture in the Nashville crafts community. She was active in the Nashville Handweavers Guild and the Tennessee Artist Craftsman Association. In Nashville, there was an emphasis on the folk craft aspect of weaving. Through her circle of weaver friends she began using natural dyes and eventually chemical dyes. She was drawn to the intense colors that brought back the enthrallment of her early love of embroidery threads, felt, and crepe paper.
Supton participated in solo and group shows during this Nashville period. Her work was shown at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt University, and Spring Street Gallery, Tennessee State Museums well as others. Work was collected by the Tennessee State Museum, the Chicago Standard Oil Building, and the Opry Hotel.
Supton had access to a clay studio at George Peabody College for Teachers and because of her intense interest in fiber, but access to ceramics, began to create work that combined both mediums. The beginning of Supton’s work in clay coincided with the early women’s movement. “I felt driven to use clay to put forth a women-centric aesthetic,” remembers Supton. As Supton began combining ceramics with fiber, each firing technique would influence her work’s color palette. Salt firing leads to brown, blue, and green colors. Raku firing gave off alternately shiny, bright colors alongside smoky gray colors. Pit firing uses the natural whites and terra cotta of clay with grays and blacks, with occasional spots of irridescence.
In 1984, when Supton moved to New York City, she brought her childhood love for creating with color and texture full circle. She launched a 25 year career teaching creative arts to children with special needs in the New York Public School system. She put as much passion into planning projects for her students as she had in her career as a craftsperson. During a yearlong sabbatical, Supton took up painting, pastel, and sculpture, and obtained access to another ceramic studio which spurred another new body of work. It was only upon retirement when she had a chance to return to full-time art making.
In 2020, the New York art community has come calling with several shows incorporating her works in a variety of settings.
" I find my muse in my materials and in nature;
the meditative feel of walking outdoors, the calm, the fragrance, the actual plant life.
My earliest work moved from fiber art as woman’s work, to fiber art as female imagery.
‘Wildflowers: An Exhibit of Clay & Fiber’ is a combination of recent pieces and objects from the past. In the mixed media pieces, the ceramic object is created first, and the colors and textures of the accompanying weaving are conceived to complement the clay piece. Normally the ceramic pieces have color that reflects different types of firing. The pieces selected for this show are primarily unglazed white ceramics with only a tiny bit of colored glaze. as a result, the pieces are nearly all made in shades of white, and the textures and fibers of the weaving are the colors.
My pieces are shaped like shells or flowers, and usually named for goddesses or female figures in bluegrass songs. (I have played the mandolin for nearly 25 years.)
My earlier images intentionally evoked lushness, fertility, youth, sensuality, sexuality.
In the past few years much of my work has been in pastel painting and watercolor, where I continue my female imagery, mostly close-ups of flowers, very textured, in brilliant colors. This has led to looking at wilted, drying, faded flowers, representing a wilted, dry, faded aging old woman.
Two of the recent fiber pieces were designed as if they would hang with smokey gray ceramic petals. As they developed, they derived color choices as if they were faded gray irises. Both “Lilith” and “Evelyn” rely on a great variety of textures and materials and a limited palette to express meaning.
The most recent piece, Cailleach, a winter goddess, is woven entirely in shades of white. My intention was to use up a life-time collection of materials in that color range. The piece is almost unbearably tactile and to me, sensual and meditative as well. It is woven using tapestry and rug techniques, made of fleece, roving, handspun, unspun, dyed, natural, bleached, wool, goat hair, cotton, synthetic yarns and cloth. It is woven with rya knots, loops, soumak, chaining and knotless netting."
- Amy Supton, 2020