I love the feel of textiles in my hands. As a child, I remember walking through the fabric store and running my hand over all of the different fabrics. Their colors and patterns were exciting, but they also had to have a certain feel to it. No scratchy lace for me… but a velvet collar… that was bliss!
I learned to embroider at a very young age and embroidered bunnies on my Easter dress at the age of five. I was so very proud of my accomplishment although, in retrospect, it may have made adults cringe! Accomplishments in embroidery continued through my high school years and I remember my mother wondering how I could work without a pattern. Patterns seemed boring and confining…. I preferred to work out my own way of covering my jeans with images and patterns.
I pursued art in college with the discovery of clay – a very malleable and textural material. It satisfied many of the same discoveries of fiber. We only had a few fiber classes and the textile degree was discontinued while I was there. However, it was also an opening to silk screening, batik, weaving and surface design. I was hooked but just didn’t know it yet!
Many years later, while teaching elementary art, I took a mixed media 2D class and decided to embroider on one of the pieces. I was immediately transported to my childhood and found something that had been missing for many years. I discovered that embroidery could be ART! Slowly, the realization came to me that I could also create fiber sculpture!!
The material I use to create fiber sculptures is an acrylic felt repurposed from recycled water bottles. I cut out pieces of felt, embroider them, sew them together into shapes and then apply a heat gun. I instantly achieve a crunchy, aged look. It provides an interesting combination of strength and fragility at the same time. The visual texture and tactile feel of my art is very important to me. The tactile ability is greatly enhanced by the hand embroidery I add. I enjoy how the individual stiches made by the simplest of tools, a needle and thread, can create lines, shapes, images and textures. Varying the fibers, stitch size or layering provides endless opportunities to experiment.
Working in fibers also provides a connection to the past, not just my own, but centuries of past individuals who found a way to embellish or expand their world using a simple needle and thread. Additionally, there is the connection to covering oneself for warmth, protection, and cultural identity. I have a personal connection to members of my family – quilt makers and clothing construction – to many of them who are no longer here and I did not have the opportunity to learn from. Yet, I feel the connection to their identity.
The subject matter of my art is mostly from nature and much of it botanical. My artwork celebrates the connection I feel with nature and the longing I have to be closer to the places where I feel most connected. In working with fibers, I have found ways to stitch, heat and cajole the fibers into textures and shapes which do not copy but represent the minutiae of nature.