Adela Akers is a Spanish-born (1933, Santiago de Compostela) textile artist who moved with her family to Cuba at an early age to escape the civil war. With an interest in biochemistry, she initially graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in Pharmacy. While in Havana, she met a group of artists — Los Once (The Eleven) — that included painters, playwrights and actors. Influenced by their creative freedom, Akers was persuaded to study weaving and ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1957. During this time, Akers began to complete commissions for sale, developing a collaborative process of drawing and weaving in consultation with the collector or corporation. That practice has continued throughout her career.
Travelling throughout North and South America and Europe over a lifetime has strongly influenced the direction and evolution of her work. After completing her Master’s degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art and a residency at Penland School of Crafts, Akers traveled to Peru with a government program, Progress for Peace, as a weaving adviser in a program initiative of the Kennedy administration. As a Peace Corps volunteer, Akers was tasked with organizing and selling the work produced in a local cooperative and developing a sustainable economic model. This was a transformative event in the development of her oeuvre. Exposed to textiles of pre-Columbian Peruvian weavers and other early Indian weaving techniques, her tapestries began to incorporate more subtle design elements, and take on greater scale. These styles of textile became an intrinsic part of the structure of her pieces because of their dependence on math and geometry.