Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blog hopping

I've been invited to participate in an artist blog hop that started in Europe and has come to me via my art friend Uta Lenk (check out her blog here).  They have asked me to answer four questions about my work.

1.  What am I working on?

An excellent question.  Right now, not much; in the biannual post-Quilt-National blues I'm concentrating on cleaning up my workspaces.  What  drag!  Every other year you kill yourself getting three entries ready for the big competition, then while you're sitting on your hands waiting to hear, it's hard to focus on any meaningful work.

But I have an ambitious to-do list.  A pile of book reviews torn from the newspaper await transformation into found haikus like this one:

Pretty soon I'm going to stop making new haikus and figure out how to permanently display the collection on some kind of armature that will allow you to page through and read them.

Lots of sidewalk junk to sort through and see if I can embark on a new series of found art pieces, like this one from last year:

More hand-stitching on a couple of series featuring words and text of various kinds, like this "Three Words of Advice:"

And of course I have my daily collage project (see more of that here) and my continuing photography (here) that have to appear on schedule.  Probably no big quilts on the agenda for a while as I decompress from my summer of heavy lifting.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not even sure what "genre" we're talking about.  My art used to be almost exclusively quilts, but in the last couple of years I've felt a strong urge to bust out of that niche and explore other mediums and formats.
If an art critic were writing about me, I hope she'd see all this as manifestations of the same artistic urge: to tie together many, many little bits and pieces into a unified whole and to present that whole with toughness and without sentimentality.  And with a bit of humor.

3.  Why do I do what I do?

Because it's there?  Because I see connections among the things and concepts that come into my line of vision, and want to solidify or construct those connections.  I learned to use the needle and the sewing machine very early in life so those have been my go-to tools for connecting things.  But I also have come to adore glue sticks, and it's fun to use the hammer, nails, pliers, etc. to make art instead of just fix the sagging shelves in the laundry room.

4.  How does my process work?

Unlike many artists I don't do sketchbooks.  I rarely sketch anything in advance; instead I make it and see what happens.  When I embark on a large quilt, for instance, I start with a "recipe" that is entirely verbal.  For instance, the "recipe" for this quilt was to make right-angle cross grids from striped fabric on a black background, with part of the quilt being high-density, closely spaced lines and another part being low-density, sparse lines.  I made a lot of each kind of piecing, posted the modules on my design wall, and arranged and rearranged them until I came up with the final composition and sewed it together.

For my street art sculptures I like to put a lot of junk on the worktable and see which pieces seem to want to play together.  I'll make little collections of like (or unlike) things and lay them out on a support to see if they work; often the first idea doesn't, but a rusty washer from the other end of the table makes it better.  I fins that a messy workplace is exactly what I need to make art.

For next week, I invite you to continue the blog hop by visiting Paula Kovarik, a fine fiber artist whom I first met when we both had work in Quilt National '11.  I'm jealous of her because not only can she draw, she does it with her sewing machine.  We share a love for old found textiles as supports for art, and a love of text and letterforms (she was a graphic designer before retiring to fulltime art).

Check out her blog here and come back to it next Saturday when Paula will continue the blog hop.


  1. Great post, Kathy. I was also asked to be part of the blog hop, but now everyone I was thinking of asking is already on it. Dilemma!
    I am such of fan of Paula's work. I kept going back to her quilt at QN last year and took so many pictures. It was surely one of my favorites.

  2. Thank you Kathy! (and Norma). I appreciate the opportunity and love to hear from all these other artists. Like going down the rabbit hole of art.
    “Alice started to her feet…ran across the field after (the White Rabbit)…just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.” -- Lewis Carroll