Alexandria Woman Creates Tapestry Honoring 200-Plus Women Throughout History

'Women From the Dawn of Time' by Anita Barondes will be on display at Burke Branch Library next month

Anita Barondes with her opera tapestry, which won a ribbon at a show in Woodlan. (Photos courtesy Anita Barondes)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Zebra reported yesterday (Feb. 6) that Alexandria Library’s Burke Branch will be the site of a book sale mid-March. March is also Women’s History Month. During the sale, the Library will display a special tapestry made by Anita Barondes, a volunteer with Burke Branch Friends, the nonprofit that supports the library. The 44″ x 34″ tapestry honors the importance of women in history.

The Zebra conducted an interview with Barondes via email to learn more about the significance of this tapestry titled “Women From the Dawn of Time.” The full transcript appears below.

The Zebra Press: What inspired the creation of this tapestry?

Anita Barondes: I was looking for a project that would combine research, design, and needle arts. Prior to the “Women from the Dawn of Time,” I created a tapestry of major opera figures. That project allowed me to research operas,  search out images of characters in operas, create a design, and stitch each character. The opera project was so successful and fun.  I particularly liked the research as I listened to each opera and found images of characters with various costumes. I searched for another topic that would offer a variety of images and a learning opportunity at the same time. What started as a small project of 20-30 women grew to the huge undertaking with over 200 images. I wanted a variety of women from around the world, not just western, white women. The more I researched, the more women I found who deserved to be included.

Zebra: As the artist, what does it depict to you?

AB:  How many women have been forgotten and ignored by history largely written by men.

“Women From the Dawn of Time,” a tapestry by Anita Barondes

Zebra:  How long did it take you to make the tapestry?

AB:  The entire process took four years. First, I researched women both famous, ignored and forgotten in various fields. Next, I developed the design, with mythical female origin figures (plus “Lucy,” the first human) in the center, and women from ancient history to the present by category in spokes from the center. At the top is a picture of mitochondrial eve – the woman from whom all human beings are descended. Then, I obtained images of all 200+ women and created patterns for each using the computer program MacStitch. Only then, did I begin stitching, one pattern at a time. Two years into the project, I learned that it was the “Year of the woman,” so I incorporated that notion in the title.

Zebra: What do you hope viewers learn from it?

AB:  Three things:

1. There are many many women throughout history who made major contributions in all fields, but are essentially unknown.

2. Today, there are numerous books for young people about some of these women. Few of those books existed when I was a girl. The only celebrated women I knew were Pocahontas, Madame Curie, and a handful of others. Today, girls can read about hundreds of women who helped change the world.

3. A retired lawyer can have a fun and fulfilling life outside of the law!

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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