Self-taught embroiderer Mariska Karasz arrived in the United States from her native Hungary at the age of sixteen. The influence of Hungary’s rich folk-art tradition is reflected in her early work. As her interest in fiber art developed, Karasz began to incorporate silk, line, cotton, wool, thread, hemp, horsehair, and wood into her fiber hangings. Her materials were carefully chosen for their texture, color, and any unusual quality, such as an inconsistent dye in the yarn.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Mariska Karasz grew up in Hungary and moved to New York after high school. After studying at Cooper Union Art School, she took some of her handmade blouses into Wanamaker’s department store, where her clothing sold so well that the store gave Karasz her own department. After her first daughter was born, she gave up designing clothes because she wanted to devote her time to being a mother. But she soon discovered that she was unhappy with store-bought children’s clothes and decided to continue making her own. As her children grew up, Karasz focused more on wall hangings and furnishings, experimenting with traditional embroidery and appliqué techniques.