"Paper Tapestries" exhibit was a slow and labor intensive project

MOSCOW, ID - At first glance, the newest installation in Moscow's Third Street Gallery appears to be enlarged sheets of scrap paper.

But Tapestry Artist Sarah Swett said that these pieces are telling a story.

"This story just built, and it became the story of the process of writing," said Swett. "So in a sense, if you're a writer, you're always grabbing a scrap of paper and scribbling something down."

When you take a closer look, it becomes clear that the enlarged pieces of paper are actually tapestries.

"These tapestries were hung in Lewiston in the Blue Lantern, and when I saw them there, I was just overwhelmed and I asked Sarah if she could bring them home to Moscow and display them to our citizens," said Moscow Art Director Kathleen Burns.

Swett spent four years weaving the 13 tapestries by hand.

'True tapestry cannot be machine woven," said Swett. "There is no machine capable of doing it."

She even spun the yarn herself.

"I'll go back and forth and I can weave a shape, and then I can weave another shape around it," said Swett. "And that's how all the shapes here were built."

Swett has been weaving since she was a student at the University of Idaho more than 20 years ago.

"They did a workshop and I thought I would hate it," said Swett.

Even though she fell in love with it, she says there's a reason it's not more popular.

"It's not terribly well known because it's immensely slow and labor intensive," said Swett.

Swett hopes that her work will inspire younger artists to continue the art form that can only be produced by hand and hard work.

"It's tenacious, it will not die," said Swett. "But it has yet to explode."

The Third Street Gallery is in Moscow's City Hall and the opening for Sarah Swett's exhibit is Thursday evening at 5:00, with an artist talk right before it at 4:00.