The Trojan Family Tapestry

John Nava

2010. Ronald Tutor Campus Center. University of Southern California

Text from the plaque: The Trojan Family Tapestry by world-renowned artist John Nava is the signature commission of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Art & Trojan Traditions program and permanent art collection. The Campus Center originally commissioned the piece in the summer of 2008, under the advisement of USC Fisher Museum of Art's Director, Selma Holo. Once commissioned, Nava began making visits to campus to photograph students and meet with members of the Campus Center administration to develop his vision. He also retrieved ancient and historical documents from the USC Libraries to compose the "field of knowledge" that makes up the tapestry background. Nava also attended a USC football game against Notre Dame, where he photographed then USC football player David Buehler who appears in the final tapestry. He stands beside 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Soni, who was also a USC swimmer a the time. Former USC President Steven Sample and the naming donor for the Campus Center, Ronald Tutor, are also depicted in the final tapestry. All of the other figures shown are real USC students or staff, representing our diverse USC community in the present moment. Once Nava chose which photographs he wanted to use, he painted the figures individually, then scanned the paintings into a computer. The elements of the final image are all brought together using Photoshop. They are set up for the loom by controlling size, color palette and image distortion factors related to the weaving. Throughout this process, Nava had the Flanders Tapestries mill in Bruges, Belgium weave test pieces to test the color, size, and detail of the composition. For instance, it took several tests to arrive at the precisely correct shades of cardinal and gold. Real gold threads were also used throughout the final tapestry. After almost two years of preparation, the final tapestry was woven in Bruges in May 2010. The final installation took place on June 29th, 2010. It was unveiled on July 10, 2010 at the Presidential Opening of the Campus Center. At the July 10 opening, Nava asked then President Sample if he recognized himself in the tapestry. To that, Sample replied, "I recognize the University."

"A woven frieze of figures moves across the tapestry that oversees the entrance passageway of the Ronald tutor Campus Center. The group mirrors the real life movement of the student community both in that passage and through the fabric of the university itself. The image's 'figure/ground' interaction corresponds to the traditional journey of the young scholars within the living realm of ideas. The 'figures' are specific, portraits of lively and fresh representatives of their time (our time now). Without attempting to be an exhaustive census, the group affirms the diversity of the campus population. The young people reflect the interior preoccupations and attitudes typical of all generations of students - each intently focused on making his or her way. The 'ground' in the images is made up of a mosaic of texts - literally the stuff of cultural memory. Various fragments reflect the timeless - ancient Sanskrit, Mayan codices, Don Quixote, etc. - and the timely with all suffused in a field of binary code. This 'cardinal and gold' information field structures the wall and envelopes the figures themselves - they are embedded in this 'idea world' even as they move through it." John Nava.

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