The Patient Art: Weaving the Tampa Tapestries (1990)

About the Film

The Patient Art: Weaving the Tampa Tapestries is a 30-minute documentary about the weaving of one of the largest tapestry projects in history. Twelve women weavers from the Phumalanga workshop of Swaziland Tapestries in Mbabane, Swaziland, working with Virginia artist Ronald Renmark, were commissioned by the Tampa International Airport to weave 22 giant tapestries depicting the Florida landscape. The tapestries—each 34 feet long by eight feet tall, were woven in Stuart, Virginia between 1986 -1988.

The documentary shows the complete tapestry-making process, capturing the interaction between Renmark, the weavers, and dyer Michael Warek, as they combine their skills to translate Renmark’s designs into woven tapestries. Everything is done by hand: painting the cartoons, dyeing and blending the varied colored yarns, hanging the warp threads, and weaving. As the weavers patiently work at their giant loom, to pass the time they sing beautiful songs in their native SiSwati. The documentary reveals the completed tapestries hanging in the Tampa International Airport and the scenes of nature in the Florida landscape that inspired them. It also captures some of the Swazi weavers’ intercultural exchanges as they share with Americans their weaving techniques and their native songs and dances.

The Patient Art was produced, directed, and edited by Elizabeth Fine and Robert Walker.


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Hazen Robert Walker, Elizabeth Fine, the distributor, or Folkstreams.