2003 NAN Lifetime Achievement Awardee
Jean graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA with a B.S. in Biology. She earned her Teachers’ Certification from the Valentine Museum (now the National Academy of Needlearts) in 1985. At graduation her piece “Narcissus Fan” was accessioned into the Valentine’s permanent collection, the highest honor a candidate can receive. She went on to serve NAN as counselor, Director of Teachers’ Certification, and twice as Director of Education. Jean was the author of two needlework books, Laid Fillings for Evenweave Fabrics and Darning Patterns for Evenweave Fabrics, and for many years she did the charts for all the designs published in NeedlePointers magazine.
Jean was a longtime fixture on the needlework scene, teaching extensively at national seminars and local chapters across North America. She was best known for her exquisite technique and for her exciting designs. One of her most famous pieces was “View from Anastasia’s Window”, a composition in cream and gold, depicting St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
Her designs were always elegant and refined, based on solid research and inspired by cultures worldwide. A study of Southwestern art brought forth “Pueblo Patterns”; delving into Indian design, she produced “Mogul Medallion”. She researched Irish illuminated manuscripts and gave the stitching world “Gaelic Gold”. Among her most popular and memorable designs were the series of four Japanese geishas, representing the four seasons and introducing embroiderers to beaded pulled thread work. Jean also taught one of the earliest and most successful correspondence courses of all time for EGA, “Victoria Revisited”, a design her husband dubbed the “piece that never ends.”
Jean’s passing was a huge loss to the needlework community, both for her contribution of good designs and her sharing of them with her students. No less a loss was her work for NAN in mentoring upcoming teachers. She held to the highest standards, both in her own life and her own work, and was able to elicit it from her students and candidates. She was knowledgeable, efficient, reliable, and orderly and at the same time nurturing; this describes the consummate teacher as well as mentor and it describes Jean Taggart. In her memory, the Best of Show award given each year at The Exemplary is called the Jean Taggart Award.