Silvia Heyden has been weaving tapestries for over 50 years. She believes that while weaving has practically become a lost art in this century, if the craft of weaving is allowed to influence the product of tapestry they both become an art form. She weaves tapestries in compositions that could only be woven, not painted in order to give tapestry its own identity. By letting the process of weaving, the materials and the tradition of the craft influence her work she rejects attempts to weave realistic scenes and weaves abstract tapestries based on specific forms, color combinations and motifs. Based on the Bauhaus principals she weaves pieces that balance process and result as well as function, materials and form.
Born and educated in Switzerland, Silvia Heyden studied in the Bauhaus tradition at the School of Arts in Zurich under Johannes Itten and Elsi Giauque from 1948 to 1953. As a young artist, she won the Achievement Award of the City of Zurich.
In 1953 she moved to the United States with her husband and lived for many years in Durham, North Carolina where she gained an international reputation for her tapestries. During this time, her work was exhibited at the Duke University Museum of Art, the Mint Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art as well as in numerous museums in Switzerland and Germany. Heyden returned to her family home near Locarno overlooking the Lago Maggiore in southern Switzerland in 1993. While there she exhibited in museums in Switzerland, Italy and Germany. She moved back to Durham in 2005 where she continues to work and provide inspiration to weavers worldwide. Her tapestries are in many major private and corporate collections in the United States and Europe. Heyden has recently been the subject of a film by Kenny Dalsheimer , “A Weaverly Path: The Tapestry Life of Silvia Heyden.”