How do you go about creating a piece of work and what goes through your mind from start to finish?
When I begin a piece, it is begun as an impulse. I have an idea or a desire to create something and I begin working by doing.The initial idea and the process begin the piece. Once the piece has begun, I reevaluate. I take time to sketch, plan and determine the course of action that will come next. I think about what I desire for the piece to be about and move forward from there. In creating I enjoy a balance between control over the materials and the materials being in control. I think of it like cultivation. I am the caretaker, but I do not have ultimate control of the outcome. For a great deal of what I create there is not a point of finishing. Often times once a piece is completed and installed I see room for more or the potential for other possibilities. Often, pieces have their own lives and I am interested in reusing elements over again, changing them and letting them grow into something more than where they began.
What possession do you most cherish?
Some of my most cherished possessions were things that belonged to my grandmother. I remember these things when she owned them. I have a history with them as well. With these possessions, as well as any object that has been owned and used by someone else there is an element of that person on the object. For the things that I own of my grandmothers, I think about how she used/wore/displayed them.I feel closer to her because I have these objects, but I think in general owning/using objects from the past keep us conscious of a past time.
Where do you find materials to create with?
Many of my materials are found. I enjoy the hunt that is required to seek out materials – fabrics, furniture, fixtures and shelves. Places like St. Vincent DePaul Society and Salvation Army provide great materials and often serve as inspiration for my work. In terms of the yarns and wools that I use, I try to patronize locally owned establishments. Knitty Couture in University City and Knitorious in South City are where I frequent for wool and alpaca yarns. Most of the materials that I use to dye I purchase at the grocery store, except walnuts. I have a great friend Pat who is my walnut supplier. For the merino wool that I use for felting I usually purchase from Woodland Wool Works online – they have great customer service.
What is the source of your creativity? How much is from within? How much comes from outside sources?
I derive a great deal of inspiration from everyday events. Domestic life and the natural world spur my ideas. The way that I manipulate real occurrences comes from within. Combining two things (nature and domestic culture) that aren’t integrated in reality is where my internal creativity comes into play. I use creative thinking exercises to exhaust all possible options for a piece. Then I have a long list of ideas to choose from.
Is the face of fiber art changing? How so?
Within the title of fiber art, I believe that there is room for many different types of work. Fiber art is also one of the most accepting media areas, where not only materials, but process can allow your work to fit into the category of fiber arts. There are a number of artist who have pushed fiber art into the fine art world and I see this continuing to happen. The idea of what fiber art is, is expanding and pushing and creating conversations with artists who identify themselves as fine artists. By rooting their work in ideas that engage fine art as well as rooting themselves in a process focused way of creating, fiber art and fine art come together. Historically, fiber arts have been integral to society as functional and have a long and fascinating history – to me this history is just as interesting and valid as the history of painting or sculpture. Coming out of a functional history creates a particular connotation with any work that engages fiber art ideals, but artists are using that to their advantage. Fiber art is becoming no longer just about how a piece is made in terms of technique and materials, but the technique and materials are becoming integrated into the idea as well. The use of terms connected to fiber art such as domestic were once thought of as low, but more and more these ideas connected to fiber art are becoming acceptable in fine art realms. The conversation that is occurring between fine art and fiber art is thrilling to me – someone who feels as if they have just begun their career as an artist.I’m enthusiastic to be apart of this conversation because there is room to chart a course that hasn’t been taken before.
When a simple strand of thread is knotted, stitched or woven into art, you know that the touch of an artist's hand has transformed the simple to the sublime. Innovation in Textiles 8, coordinated by the Craft Alliance in St. Louis, MO and presented biennially, investigates contemporary fiber art. This fall, more than 20 local galleries, non-profit and private arts organizations will collaborate to showcase textile arts, guest lecturers, fiber centered workshops and programs, free of charge. This biennial, collaborative exhibition will focusing on a wide range of materials and techniques; soft yarns woven into tapestries, shaped and dyed shibori wearables, paper stitched with horse hair, fusions of glass and fiber and quilts whose colors rival the palettes of the Old Masters. The exhibits, lectures and workshops will demonstrate how a single strand of thread is transformed, through process, manipulation and its materiality, to a complex and sublime work of art.