Discipline: Visual Art – installation

Tabitha Arnold

Discipline: Visual Art – installation
Region: Chattanooga, TN
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Tabitha Arnold makes labor-intensive art. Born in Chattanooga, TN, she studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and later transitioned into a self-learned practice of weaving and punch needle embroidery. Her meticulous, tactile tapestries resemble traditional embroideries and rugs, featuring spiritual imagery and historical art motifs on pieces as large as seven feet tall. The themes of Arnold’s work cover the radical past and ongoing struggle that threads all working people together. She’s inspired by the history of the labor movement, as well as her own direct experiences as a worker, organizer, and artist coming of age during a wave of unionization and class-consciousness.

Arnold’s textile practice has been profiled in Jacobin magazine and Hyperallergic. Her work features in print issues of the New York Review of Books and Lux Magazine, as well as on six covers of Dissent magazine. She has completed residencies at Cortex Frontal in Portugal, The Church in Sag Harbor, and Glen Foerd in Philadelphia. Arnold was included in the American Craft Council’s 2022 Emerging Artist Cohort, and her work has been acquired by international collectors as well as the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. She now lives and works in Chattanooga.

At MacDowell, Arnold created Gospel, a punch needle embroidered rug about the history of the South as a site of revolutionary struggle, as expressed through its cultural traditions of folk music, fiber art, and spirituality.

Made at MacDowell

Fellow Works Supported by MacDowell

Gospel (Rug)



Tabitha Arnold worked in the Nef studio.

Nef Studio, the first entirely new studio built after 1937, was donated by esteemed photographer, explorer, author, and MacDowell Fellow Evelyn Steffanson Nef in 1992. Endowed funds for the studio’s maintenance in perpetuity and an annual Fellowship for photographers were given in addition to funds for construction. Mrs. Nef said she had known about MacDowell all her…

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