Posts tagged Sewing
A New Mythology: Interview with Textile Artist Amy Meissner
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Alaskan artist, Amy Meissner, combines traditional handwork, found objects and abandoned domestic textiles to reference and revere the work of women. She has shown internationally, with textile work in the permanent collection of the Anchorage Museum, the Contemporary Art Bank of Alaska and the Alaska Humanities Forum as well as many private collections. Her solo exhibition Inheritance: makers. memory. myth. – a body of work crafted from 13 months-worth of globally crowdsourced vintage linens and personal narratives from over 70 contributors -- debuted at the Anchorage Museum in May 2018, and is slated to travel through 2021. Her background is in clothing design, illustration and creative writing.  

Statement

My work with needle prods the literal, physical and emotional work of women — gathering the collective thrum of women’s abandoned handwork and combining with my own to generate a new mythology. I approach this textile work with the traditional skills taught in girlhood, confronting an expectation of beauty, decoration and domesticity with a raw female gaze. The resulting narrative does more to reveal an emotional truth about a life than any partial or assumed history; completing a story feels human, crafting by hand even more so.

This is time-based work. A landscape.

An act of slicing apart, then piecing oneself back together.

Tell me about yourself. When did you develop an interest in sewing?

I’m the twelfth first-born daughter to a first-born daughter, a line that can be traced to 1640. These women are Swedish (I’m the first one to be born in the US), so handwork is a skill I was taught at a young age. I learned to crochet and embroider at age 3 or 4, run a sewing machine when I was 9, and my initial interest in sewing was probably based on wanting to do what my mother was doing. I quickly lost interest when she began instructing me in a very Scandinavian “the-front-has-to-look-as-good-as-the-back” way, and I cried a lot, but by the time I was in high school in the 1980s I was making my clothes and friends were hiring me to design and make rad prom dresses. At 17 I landed an internship at a small atelier that made costumes and custom wedding gowns, and I stayed in the fashion industry until I was 30, mostly working for similar shops where I had to know how to do everything from production cutting, to sample sewing, to pattern drafting, to fine finishing, to knowing enough breezy conversation to make a half-naked bride feel comfortable in the fitting room.

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It is a beautiful decision to make such time-based, intricate work in a fast-paced world. What are your favorite parts of your process and studio practice?

I’m glad you’ve referred to it as a decision because this work does feel very intentional. I could take so many shortcuts, so many, but I choose not to because I want to honor the history of women’s handwork. So much of it has been lost, discarded, disregarded…those makers were such talented women, whether they would consider themselves talented or not. They knew how to make something out of nothing, and no one called it “upcycling” or “repurposing.” This was mending and remaking and making do, especially the women from my family who lived a life of meager resources, but seriously mad skills.

So I love making something out of nothing. I love the physicality of the work, the repetitive quality of handwork, the problem solving that arises from using fragile, cast off vintage linens and cloth intended for the domestic realm, often made according to someone else’s idea of beauty. 

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What inspired your most recent series?

 In 2015 I received a box of vintage linens in the mail from a woman in New York state. She’d seen my work using a personal collection of family embroidery and crochet and wanted me to have hers. I blogged about it (www.amymeissner.com/blog/box-of-mystery) and then other women wanted to send their linens as well. This became the catalyst for a 13-month crowdsourcing effort to collect unwanted handwork and narratives from women all over the world, called the “Inheritance Project,” whereby I became the final inheritor. This provided people with a place to send the family linens no one else wanted rather than sending them to the landfill, and it provided me with raw material. Over 80 contributors sent over 650 objects, representing 20 countries and 25 states. 90% of the makers are unknown.

The stories women shared were heartbreaking. One woman from Illinois sent a scrap of tablecloth crocheted by a woman incarcerated in the Detroit House of Corrections for killing her abusive husband in the 1970s. Other women sent stories of grandmothers emigrating from Europe with nothing, lost histories, lost languages. Many contributors were also artists who recognized the value in these items, often collected them, but decided not to use the material in their own practice and were happy to have someone to send it to.

The body of work that arose from the project became the solo exhibition, “Inheritance: makers. memory. myth.,” funded in part by the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation. It showed at the Anchorage Museum during the summer of 2018 and is at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau until February 2019 as part of their Solo Exhibition Series.

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What do you hope your viewers and collectors experience and take away from your art? 

I hope to create a new conversation around the value of women’s work - the literal handwork, the physical work of the body, and the emotional labor we bear. Working with textiles offers an opening to have these exchanges, which can be confrontational, but since no one initially feels assaulted when looking at a doily the work is approachable; viewers are thinking of their grandmother, their own intimate experience with cloth. My work has a recognizable quality to it, whether it’s the sometimes quilt-form I work in or the components I use, but it is layered and emotional. I want people to realize the vibrant inner life of the women who sat quietly with needles or hooks. This was a dense landscape, not the vacuous or meaningless work often portrayed. If society and history hadn’t channeled these women to only make functional or beautiful work for the home in order to justify their creative impulses…if the material and conceptual exploration had been the goal…what would they have made?

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What do you wish more people knew about handwork and the intersection of craft and fine art? 

It’s important to me to have a relationship with materials. There’s a reason why I use cloth -- it’s a vehicle for deeper meaning, it’s part of my culture, it belongs in my skill set. As a woman and a mother, the cloth has become more important as I get older. I didn’t start using this medium until after I had children, stopped painting for a variety of reasons, and returned to this skill I learned as a girl. This was work I could engage in with children at my feet - like all of those other first-born daughters who’d likely done the same. I’m coming closer to understanding the importance of their craft.

I think the line between art and craft is shaggy and blurry and widening, as people have ongoing conversations regarding materials and technique, attempt to define craft, and identify its qualities and value compared to fine art. Some of this interest in craft might be a direct response to a technological, fast-paced world, but it could also be the rise in awareness of the craft-based work traditionally done by women and therefore historically dismissed. I feel like there’s a lot of untapped energy in this realm, especially for younger women ready to infuse cast-off chapters of women’s work with new energy, sometimes rage.

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What is your creative community like in Alaska? What are some highlights?

I’ve been here 18 years, and while Alaska is remote I feel fortunate to be an artist in a supportive culture. There aren’t many studio spaces available (mine is in my home), our galleries and opportunities to exhibit are limited, but this generates exciting projects utilizing alternative spaces and ways of practicing. Although we can mail-order anything, shipping is expensive or unavailable to non-contiguous states, and many artists choose to look to their surroundings for materials, still in a mindset of making do and utilizing resources that have always been abundant here. Alaska has a powerful history of indigenous art and I’m so honored to be surrounded by contemporary Alaska Native artists and have the privilege of sharing this incredible landscape.

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What are you currently working on and what do you hope to accomplish in the next few years? 

I’m currently engaged in a body of work around motherhood and birth. I’m in the early stages of “not knowing,” but what I do know is my relationship to the materials -- which are still old, still abandoned, still fragile -- and that what I want to say and how to say it relies on cloth.

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Kirsten Ledbetter

Kirsten Ledbetter is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education, a Bachelor of Fine Arts with concentrations in Painting and Ceramics as well as a minor in Special Education.

Her desire is to be as versatile as possible in order to take advantage of any opportunity that comes her way. She has determination and motivation to fulfill any task and her academic performance, in her five years at Miami, exemplifies this. During her time at Miami, she received many scholarships and grants for her studio work, her art education research, as well as her academic merit. During her five years at Miami, she also had many opportunities for involvement and leadership; she served as president of the student chapter of the National Art Education Association on the Miami University campus for the 2015-2016 academic year.

She is also passionate about arts education and travel. In the summer of 2016, she was an intern at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati for their arts summer camp. She has also had international experiences during her time at Miami; in the summer of 2015, she traveled to the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany for an intensive language summer course at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität. She also had teaching experience that was facilitated through her university. She taught in the United States and Luxembourg; she spent eight weeks teaching kindergarten through fourth grade at Madeira Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio and then spent eight weeks teaching at the Nordstad Lycée in Diekirch, Luxembourg teaching sixth grade through twelfth grade in English, German and French.

A passionate artist, she is in a tumultuous yet prolific time of making in her studio. She is searching for her own independent voice through the creation of seemingly every idea that enters her mind. During her last semester, she participated in her Capstone Exhibition “Still Just as Qualified” where she exhibited new experimental works. She has had an exhilarating last semester at Miami that will propel her into her next chapter of life.

She will be vigilant and open-minded for: exhibition opportunities, publication opportunities, collaboration opportunities, almost any opportunity that allows her to continue making and share her work with others. Kirsten will be creating a portfolio over the next two years with the goal of applying to and then attending graduate school in Germany where she hopes to work toward her Master of Fine Arts.

My art investigates my identity as a woman and what it means to be a 21st-century woman. My work explores who I am and the relation of my identity to women’s identities in the past. I work in a variety of materials and kind of collect items but in a very specific way. I almost pay attention to each detail of a piece as well as the process of creating a piece. I nurture each piece as it takes nurturing to develop as an individual, the process of coming to where we are now is something that is very important to me. I also am interested in the topic of ‘high’ art versus ‘low’ art; meaning highly revered, traditionally and often costly materials versus creating art with easier to access, less costly materials. I make informed material choices also for the kinds of thoughts it provokes in viewers. Sewing and textile work traditionally falls under the ‘low’ art category because it can be learned/taught. It is also used more readily and is more accessible to people when compared to traditional oil painting, sculpture work, etc. Sewing is part of everyone’s lives; clothing, bedding, towels, repairing clothing, quilting, etc. I explore the art of sewing and textiles in my work and take into consideration the perspective of them as ‘low’ art and traditional feminine crafts. In this exploration, I work in nontraditional methods, incorporating nontraditional materials. Along with the subject of femininity, feminism and the modern world, I explore the ideas of discovery, investigation/exploration, veiling, symbolism, color and light. I experiment with texture, light, color, fabric, stenciling, layering, installation, thread, and other materials that catch my curiosity. The ideas that I explore also come into consideration when I consider the vocabulary or language used for my work. Veiling, investigation, fog: these words contribute to my exploration and the language that purveys my work, which aids me in asserting my voice.

Interview: Kay Healy

Through her drawn, screen printed, and stuffed fabric installations, Kay Healy investigates themes of home, displacement, and loss. Healy is an artist and educator originally from Staten Island, NY and received a BA from Oberlin College, and a MFA from the University of the Arts in Book Arts and Printmaking. Her 350 square foot screen printed installation Coming Home, was purchased by the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 2016. She completed Lost and Found, a 1,000 square foot digital and screen printed fiber installation for the Central Library of Philadelphia. This project was supported by the Independence Foundation’s Fellowship in the Arts, and was based on stories of lost objects from interviews of over forty people from Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

Healy has had solo exhibitions at the Gallery Septima in Tokyo, Japan, the University of Alabama Huntsville, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, the Philadelphia International Airport, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and a number of other national galleries.

She was named as a West Collects winner, and a Fellow in the Center for Emerging Visual Artists’ (CFEVA) Career Development Program. She was previously the recipient of the Leeway Art and Social Change grant, which funded a yearlong body of work based on interviews of refugees from Southeast Asia, and the NewCourtland Fellowship, which supported a teaching-artist project with senior citizens in Germantown. She lives and works in Philadelphia.

Tell us a little bit about your story as an artist.

As an undergraduate student I was interested in architecture and art history, but never considered becoming an artist until I took a required studio class my junior year at Oberlin College in Ohio. I was very inspired by visiting artists that gave lectures at the school including Pepon Osorio, Andrea Zittel, and Allen McCollum. Pepon Osorio, who teaches at Tyler, was especially influential because I loved the way his artwork connected to communities and social practice. After graduating, I took courses at Hunter College, where I learned more about ceramics and installation with Sana Musasama and went on to receive my MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. 

I have lived and worked in Philadelphia since 2006, and after graduate school, I worked in a number of nonprofit organizations while continuing my studio practice. I was Associate Director of the Cultural Arts Center, a center for adults with intellectual disabilities and the Education Manager for Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, a visionary art environment of mosaics and found objects created by Isaiah Zagar. Both of these positions increased my interest in folk and outsider art, as well as immersive, community-based artwork with strong narrative elements.

When did you get interested in sewing? Were you always drawn to textiles or did you explore various mediums in the beginning?

I am trained as a printmaker, but I like to work with a broad range of media. I rarely create printed editions, and prefer to use my screen prints to experiment with the multiple. I began creating life-sized prints in 2008, and started printing pieces on fabric in 2010. 

My mom grew up sewing her own clothing, and taught me the trapunto method, where you quilt two pieces of fabric and stuff the piece from the back, creating a bas-relief effect. I enjoy the flexibility and texture of working with fabric, and in addition to the screen printed fabrics, have been drawing, painting, and sewing one-of-a-kind fiber pieces. 

I have also been experimenting with vintage clothing and found objects, and have been making more three-dimensional suspended work using armature wire and monofilament (aka fishing line). In the last few months I have started working with clay again, and am combining ceramic and fabric in some of the new works. Like working with fabric, I love the initial malleability of clay, and while it is very fragile once fired, the details and evocative texture you can achieve with clay are extremely appealing to me.

What do you hope the viewers take away from your art?

I hope that viewers are aesthetically drawn into the work and then investigate it further. Many of my projects involve interviewing other people and recreating objects and imagery from their stories. Lost and Found was a 1,000 square foot installation that I created for the Philadelphia Central Library. This life-sized installation showcased quintessential Philadelphia row homes inhabited with over 90 three-dimensional screen printed, stuffed, and sewn objects. From armchairs to frying pans, side tables to Teletubbies, each piece was based on a person’s story of an object that they have lost and wish they could still have. In conjunction with the installation, WHYY’s Peter Crimmins recorded and created audio for viewers to hear sixteen of the interviews firsthand. While I know that not everyone has the time to delve deeper into the work, I hope that those that do find the stories behind the pieces compelling and can personally connect their own experiences with the themes of home and memory within the work.

What goes into creating each piece? Tell us about your inspiration and process.

Many of my projects begin with interviewing people about their experiences of their childhood homes or cherished objects. I have interviewed many different people including senior citizens, Southeast Asian refugees living in Philadelphia, people who were formerly homeless, and Japanese Americans who were interned during WWII, children, teens, and the general public. 

After the interview, I make smaller sketches that I translate into life-sized drawings on paper. Sometimes I transfer the drawings onto screens using photosensitive emulsion and screen print them onto fabric. More recently, if I am only making a one-of-a-kind piece, I use a light table to trace and paint the image onto fabric. I then sew the piece to a backing fabric and stuff it with Polyfil. For my stuffed animation pieces, I put in armature wire in order to be able to manipulate the object. 

Your work has been exhibited in impressive public places such as airports. What advice would you give other artist looking to expand their practice?

My main advice, especially to recent graduates, is to apply for exhibitions. While in school you are given deadlines for projects for exhibitions and critiques, and that is often the motivation you need to complete a piece for public viewing. Once out of school, while it can be liberating to have the time to play and experiment, it can also be easy to lose momentum without an external deadline. Exhibitions have always given me the motivation to buckle down and complete projects. I have found a number of exhibition opportunities without fees through nyfa.org, inliquid.org, and CFEVA's newsletter, and many schools have opportunities for alumni to showcase their work as well. 

What's next for you and what do you hope to accomplish within the next year? 

I have a few group exhibitions this summer in Montreal at Galerie C.O.A. and Abrams Claghorn Gallery in California. I am also very excited about a three-woman show at Moore College of Art with Erin Riley and Sophia Narrett. The exhibition is part of Philadelphia's CraftNow consortium, and I am looking forward to seeing our work together. 

I am completing a second NewCourtland Fellowship with CFEVA this summer and will be doing a ceramic and fiber project with the seniors and college students at Germantown Home. I have also been experimenting with stop animations of my pieces, and I'd like to expand upon that part of my practice over the next year. 

Share your favorite quote or piece of advice. 

I saw Ann Hamilton speak at UArts in Fall 2016 and she described being a student at Yale when Laurie Simmons visited. In her lecture she told them to never to wait for the right space, or the perfect equipment, or the grant, or the whatever, and to just make the work. 

Jan Brandt

Jan Brandt is the artist/owner of Jan Brandt Gallery in Bloomington, IL. Brandt curates rotating artist exhibits in a historic former Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. Her recent solo exhibits include Bio Lab by Jan Brandt, opening March 2017 at Heartland College in Normal, IL, Visiting Artist exhibit Foray at The Sheared Edge in Peoria, IL, Happy Contagion at Swellgallery in West Dundee, IL, Hybridity:New Assemblages by Jan Brandt, Water Street Studios Chronicle Gallery in Batavia, IL. Selected group exhibits include Freak Out at Zhou B in Chicago, Sexism; a Touchy Subject at Arc Gallery in San Francisco, CA, The Confluence of Art and Science, Pence Gallery, University of California at Davis, and The F Word, Feminism Now at ARC Gallery in Chicago, IL Ms Brandt holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, both from Illinois State University in Normal, IL. She was awarded High Merit in Field of Study by the Fine Arts faculty. Brandt's work has been included in multiple print and on-line publications, including American Art Collector, Studio Visit Magazine, ArtSlant, Creative Quarterly, IArtistas, StudioSpoken, The Dialogist, and The Buzz. Her work will be featured on the National Women’s Caucus for Art website in May of 2017.She is the author of Jan Brandt Gallery 2012-2015. Brandt has been interviewed for the podcast StudioBreak and NPR affiliate station WGLT for Sound Ideas. Selected awards include Four time ARTSLANT Showcase Winner, Director's Choice at the Viridian Artists 26th International Juried Exhibition, and Artist of the Month, groundarts.org.

Statement

Disparate textiles such as donated clothing, pompoms, and muslin are hand stitched by artist Jan Brandt into three-dimensional hybrid assemblages. An organic, obsessive process drives this intricate work evoking growth and accumulation. The assemblages are displayed as mutating within and edging out from wooden hoop “Petri dishes”, biological experiments attempting to escape glass specimen jars, and free form encroachments on the walls of the exhibition space.

Brandt’s work represents a confluence of art and science through the process of feminist artistic tradition. Her assemblages and installations question the definitions, contradictions, and classification of art and craft while suggesting the interpretation of biological concepts.
The physicality of these capsular works offers a macroscopic, larger than life expression of cellular growth, whimsical and disconcerting at the same time.

Rosie Wright 

Inspired by the patterns and beauty found in nature, I interpret my designs using traditional embroidery methods which I try to add a modern twist to. I use a wide variety of beads, sequins and thread to create textured colour combinations. I have a slight obsession with collecting intricate beads in different shapes and colours, and I am always searching for the interesting and obscure to create something unique.

My Grandmothers initially taught me to sew, but now I find the best way to learn new stitches and techniques is to search through antique books from the past, which also brings a sense of nostalgia.

There are so many areas of creativity and design that interest me, and I have worked within couture, bridal and dyeing studios, all of which have had an influence on my work. At the moment my journey has brought me to work as a milliner which in itself is an artform and a great way of transforming designs to be more 3d with a sense of sculpture.

Originally from Devon, I am now based in London and dedicate my spare time to producing embroidered pieces of art as well as scouting for places to open my imagination. I am currently creating a collection inspired by geometry, merging simple shapes with detailed patterns and textures.

www.rosie-wright.com

Michela Martello 

Artist Michela Martello was born in Grosseto, Italy. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in illustration from Europe Institute of Design, after which she published works in over 30 books, primarily children’s book illustrations. In 1993 she shifted her focus to painting and had her first exhibition in Milano and New York. In 1998 she moved permanently to New York where she started her research as artist painter full time at Arturo di Modica’s studio. In 2006 she was selected by the American Association of University Women in the “Emerging Women Artists Juried Exhibition” held at the New York Design Centre. In 2007 and 2008 she was selected by Jim Kempner fine arts and Ok Harris gallery for the “NYU Small Work” group show at the Washington Square gallery. Her artwork has being collected and commissioned by both public and private clients; Soros collection, Serafina group, CityCinema group, Fulton collection. Michela has collaborated with: Bonelli arte contemporanea, Italy, Tria gallery, Azart gallery, Pen&Brush gallery, NYC, Parlor gallery, NJ, and Rarity gallery in Mikonos Greece. In 2014 she won the selection for the juried exhibition "Understanding Media, the Extension of Human Being” organized by Call for Bushwick, during Bushwick open studios, in Brooklyn, NYC, in the same year she exhibited at Tibet House Museum US, and she took part of ''Transcending Tibet'' NYC curated by Davide Quadrio and Paola Vanzo. In 2015 she has being commissioned a triptique for the permanent collection of Metropoliz MAAM Museum of Rome by curators Giorgio de Finis and Stefania Giazzi, meanwhile, she's being selected by curator Rick Kinsel, director of Vilcek foundation to be part of ''Domesticity Revisited'' at Pen&Brush NYC. In 2015 she takes part of AQUA Miami Art Fair, and in 2016 at Context NYC with Azart gallery, In 2016 she has being selected to be part of Woodenwallsproject a public art program curated by Parlor gallery, with a Mural installation in Asbury Park, NJ. and most recently she's part of ''Overlap: life Tapestries'' curated by Vida Sabbaghi at A.I.R. gallery BK. In 2017 she's having her major solo show at Pen and Brush gallery, NYC.

Statement

My artwork is a reaction to the environment I occupy, with my technique I built up a gesture that always reflects my thought, my emotions, and what dictates them.

I wish to express a certain balance and harmony, but I realize that the process that leads to such an experience usually involves the opposite aspects. The artistic path has so many constructiveness/destructiveness elements, which creates a certain weight, this weight is a treasure that forges a body of creativity.

I work with mixed media on linen, paper, textile, vintage fabric, wood, walls. My pieces include drawings and paintings as well as collage, sewing, and embroidery. Rather than turning my attention to these domestic forms, I choose instead to make them part of a larger illustrative endeavor, one that draws upon familiar folktales and folk art forms, often with a spiritual and decorative dimension that can be translated on larger dimension from canvas to big murals.

I have always being inspired by the technique of frescos from Giotto to the oldest pigmented murals in the Tibetan Monastery, as well as eastern philosophy, graffiti, and western contemporary icons.

To achieve a compelling piece of work is important, although the daily practice is the essence. How to make my artwork by making my artwork. the hours spent in my studio, the old and new tools, the routine, the unpredictable source of inspirations, the detour, everything is crucial to that final touch.

The funny thing is that I am always unaware of this process at least until the end.

Interview: Kelly Kozma

Exhibition POINT 5: Works by Kelly Kozma is currently on view at Paradigm Gallery

"Consider each piece as a cross section from life. Like a droplet of blood, these works are sandwiched between two slides, preserving memories, experiences and ephemera, which may otherwise be forgotten. 

Similarly to one’s memories, these works begin with a collection of information. In a few cases, the materials utilized were brand new to this world. Their first and last purpose was to be a part of this piece. In other cases, they were gathered over time. “CMYK” for example, took months of cutting up boxes to amass enough color test-strips, to create the work. “Confetti 2.0” is made up of leftover (you guessed it) confetti, from an installation of a previous exhibition. And then there’s “Philly, Then” which is compiled of photographs taken almost 15 years ago. Regardless of how long the materials took to collect or put to use, the outcome is a frozen period of time on which one can reflect.

The collection process is followed by deconstruction. Over time, the memories one accumulates break down in the mind. What was once clear as day becomes fuzzy and pieces go missing. “What year was that? Who was there? Was that before or after we met?” One may cling to the bigger more important chunks, or remember the slightest detail of an event. Either way, information fades and the experience changes more and more with the passing of time. I mimic this process by punching my materials into half-inch circles, which get mixed up randomly, like memories swimming in a sea of thoughts. 

Lastly, these materials are sewn together, hence preserving them before being able to breakdown to an undecipherable state. I use the technique of hand stitching to physically mark the passing of time. The needle goes through the next hole and the clock ticks one more notch. The thread gets pulled tight and that second has secured itself in history. It cannot be erased or forgotten. 

Aside from the conceptuality of memories, I was also driven by the aesthetics achieved through the reorganization of information. A beer box becomes a menagerie of bold, shimmering sequins in “California Style” and a coloring book transforms into a sophisticated abstract design in “F**cked”. I also considered how the piece changes, as it is viewed from different distances. From far away, colors group together and create a pixelated, Tetris-like effect. As one approaches the piece however, it breaks down into individual images . . . a barcode, the word pizza, a smiley face, etc. Again this relates to the human experience and how we group similar time periods and events together, but upon closer examination we are able to remember the most specific and intricate of details.

Although this collection of memories began as my own, they will be transferred onto each individual viewer, who, in turn, will create their own associations, all to be preserved in time."

Congratulations on your new exhibition at Paradigm Gallery! We love seeing your art evolve over the years. How would you say the new pieces are similar/different from the work in your last show?

Thanks so much! This is my fourth solo exhibition at Paradigm, and I’m incredibly happy to be working with them again. I would say that the biggest similarity between my new and past work is the process of deconstructing materials and then stitching them back together. Attention to detail and good craftsmanship have always been important to me, so you will see those elements continue to shine through in my new series as well. I would say the biggest difference is that, in the past I have shown a plethora of processes. My last show with Paradigm was actually titled Confetti, Crackle Pop, which was somewhat indicative of there being an explosion of work, colors, etc. In my show POINT 5, which just opened, I really hone in on my punched-paper pieces, and feel that in doing so, I was able to push the work further and bring a new level of sophistication to it. 

 

Tell us a little bit about the Security Blanket. What were some things that inspired you to make the work? Describe some of the things you were thinking about when making the piece. 

A couple of years ago, I began to notice that security envelopes had really upped their game. There were so many interesting patterns and colors being introduced and I became somewhat obsessed with collecting them.  After hoarding them for awhile (most artists hoard materials at some time or another, right??) I settled on transforming them into a hand-stitched security blanket. When I began this project it was about aesthetics. I really dug these envelopes and wanted to give them a second life in my art. But as the project grew so did political tension, strife, defeat, anger, sadness, and hopelessness. Think early November, 2016. I wanted to create something that would make people feel good and give them emotional comfort, much like that of an actual security blanket. I actually created a limited edition 13-page zine, which tells the story of Security Blanket in its entirety, and can be purchased through Paradigm Gallery: 

https://www.paradigmarts.org/collections/kelly-kozma/products/securityblanketthestory. I felt like it was too meaningful of a piece not to have its story told.  

What would you say your art is about?

In my most recent exhibition, POINT 5, the work is about preserving memories, experiences and ephemera, which may otherwise be forgotten. Over time, the memories one accumulates break down in the mind.  What was once clear as day becomes fuzzy and pieces go missing. One may cling to the bigger more important chunks, or remember the slightest detail of an event.  Either way, information fades and the experience changes more and more with the passing of time.  I mimic this process by punching my materials into half-inch circles, which get mixed up randomly, like memories swimming in a sea of thoughts. Then, I hand-stitch my materials back together, preserving them before they are able to breakdown to an undecipherable state. The way I framed them is meant to read as a slide, similar to that which would contain a blood droplet, ensuring that this memory cannot be erased or forgotten.

Your process is beautifully meditative. Can you tell us about the creative stages of your work from planning to creation?

Materials play into my work a great deal, so I usually begin my process by searching and collecting things that interest me. In this series I use everything from a beer box, to CMYK test strips, to a roll of film I took in 2003. Once I’ve amassed enough materials I begin the meticulous task of punching and hand-stitching. You definitely hit the nail on the head when you said meditative. This is an excerpt from my zine…

“…people usually say one of two things when they see my work in person. 1. ‘You’re crazy! How do you have the patience to do this? You’re CRAZY!’ They normally say it multiple times. Or 2. ‘I get it!’ These are the people that like myself find solace in repetitive tasks, meticulous work and time consuming endeavors. I’ve always understood both responses. I know I’m crazy but I also get that I need to make this work to keep me sane.”

What do you hope the viewers take away from your new series?

Although these works originally stem from my memories, I’m hoping that each viewer creates their own unique story and associations that will transfer onto each piece and be preserved in time.  I also used the theme of community throughout the show, so I’m hoping people will walk away, feeling like they are part of something bigger than themselves. The show is about rebuilding and strengthening.

Please share a few tips with our readers for creating a new body of work and staying inspired and motivated in their art career.

Write down your craziest ideas because a day will come when they seem less crazy and more doable!

Healthily hoard. DON’T create an unlivable space, but DO save things that truly inspire you and are meaningful. Make a memory box and look through it every year or so. This is a surefire way to get the ideas flowing.

Be part of a community that you contribute to and are inspired by. Remember it’s a two way street! And make sure to tell your support system how appreciative you are. On that note, thanks Create! Magazine and everyone reading this!!!

You can view and purchase Kelly's entire collection here: https://www.paradigmarts.org/collections/kelly-kozma 

Kristy Bishop

Kristy Bishop is an artist living and working in Charleston, SC. She primarily works in textiles and creates relief sculpture by handweaving, sewing, and dyeing fiber. The types of dyes that she prefers to use are gathered locally or while traveling. Her primary sources include roadside growth, gardens, and grocery stores. This supplies Bishop with onion and avocado skins, eucalyptus, coreopsis, wild fennel, walnut hulls, marigold, annatto seeds and more. Bishop also finds it hard to resist using unusual yarn such as metallic and paper yarns.  She mixes these with natural dyed fibers to contrast the synthetic with the organic. Combining these materials, she weaves intuitively on a floor loom.  

In the fall of 2015, Bishop participated in a three-month residency at 701 Center for Contemporary Art. During her time there she created work to be shown the following year in a solo exhibiton.  She was the 2012-2013 North Charleston Artist in Resident, a recipient of the Dr. Judith Temple Scholarship at Arrowmont School of Crafts, co-recipient of the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant, and received the Best in Show at the 2015 Piccolo Spoleto Juried exhibition at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park.  Bishop teaches multiple textile techniques in partnership with the Charleston Museum, The Gibbes

Museum of Art, Engaging Creative Minds, 701 CCA and Enough Pie. Currently she is partnering with Enough Pie, a nonprofit organization in Charleston’s neck area, and teaching workshops at the Vat Shack, an indigo dye studio.  Most recently, she is a recipient of the SC Artists Ventures Grant from the SC Arts Commission, Exhibited work at The Southern, in Charleston, and continues to teach as an artist in residence in Charleston and Berkeley County schools through Engaging Creative Minds.  

www.kristybishop.com

Camela Guevara

Camela Guevara is an artist and seamstress in Charleston, SC. She received her BA in Fine Arts from the College of Charleston. Her work in cloth employs sewing techniques and references the garment industry using both spare and meticulous imagery. She enjoys sewing tiny beads, as well as weaving and draws inspiration from figure skating costumes, gaudy fashions and utilitarian textiles.

www.camelaguevara.com