Last July I quietly entered the 10th year of my textile/fiber entrepreneurial adventure.  I have been working with cloth, fiber and allied processes for over 20 years but doing so as a livelihood came a bit later.  10 years is a milestone, worthy of much review and assessment.  As 2015 came to an end, I began that review.  In the midst of my musings on the past year’s fiber/textile-art, design, and making, I had a chance to see a couple of shows which I found inspiring (note to self: get out and see more work by other makers!).  Here are some impressions:


Early December: I am fortunate to have a friend who insists I see Indigenous Beauty at the Michael C. Carlos Museum* (s/a my postscript below) before it closes (alas, it did close on January 3rd).  We go together and supplement the show’s interpretive content with our own; I am always enriched my friend’s observations.  Much of the show’s gratification for me is in its substantial assemblage of textile-based artifacts, largely vestments, bags, sheaths and shields.  Many of these pieces are imbued with ritual significance.  As we walk through the gallery, the energy and vitality of these pieces fills the space with a palpable solemnity; beauty, indeed, and truthThis work has deep roots.  I am reminded that the fiber/textile continuum stretches far into the past (well beyond the time of the makers of these artifacts), and far into the future during which, if humans manage to survive the Anthropocene, textiles will be re-visioned through both familiar and as yet undiscovered materials and techniques.  I am privileged to be a participant in that continuum.


Currently at the Ventulett Gallery, Fractured features works by Lynn Pollard and Karen Reese Tunnell.  In contrast to its title, my impression of the work of these two artists is one of continuity and solidity.  Both artists works’ are quite complex, layered with rich, abstract detail and nuance.  Each body of work “speaks” in visual “harmonics”: one quietly powerful, contemplative, the other energetic, vibrant, and assertive. Both resonate with something almost primordial, owing much of their intensity to the careful management of inherently unpredictable base techniques (successive indigo vat immersion and marbling, respectively).  I feel a kinship with these artists and recognize a shared source of inspiration.  Seeing this show reminds me of how lucky I am to have gravitated toward textiles and fiber as my central media/formats.  If you have any doubt as to the power of techniques and materials generally associated with fiber/textile craft to move the heart and soul on a universal level, go see this show.  It will change your mind.  Show closes on January 22, 2016.

Postscript:  Turning over a new leaf, my husband and I went to the Carlos this past Sunday.  I happen to live within walking distance of the museum and although my intention has always been to make the connect at least one a month, I have not been able to do so.  This year, I hope to make good on my intentions! K.C.

DSCN1687adjcutoutalt3reducedI woke up not too long ago realizing how much like my pre-show self I feel again – brimming with enthusiasm for new work and the energy to undertake it.  I am incredibly honored to have been juried into the ACC/SF show.  It was something I have been working towards for many years, and to have made it in was an affirmation that I am on the right track (however slow the train itself may run!).  While I still have much to learn about producing a show of this scale, there is no question that it was a resounding success overall.

I took away a lot of practical information from the experience; however, the biggest post-show revelation related to the cyclical nature of creative work and life, and the absolute necessity of honoring the less expansive phases of these cycles.  On point: If ever there was a need for a deliberate “completion” ritual, my return from San Francisco was the time to do it!  Unfortunately, instead, I continued to work as if nothing had changed; however, I struggled for weeks against an unidentifiable and draining force which I later identified as my body/mind’s demand for genuine rest.  Eventually, only “total surrender” made it possible for me to collect and organize my thoughts, analyze my experience, and prepare for a new cycle of work.  What follows is a little musing on the topic of work cycles to which I may refer when I find myself once again working way past the “expiration date”( of a work day or a project cycle) without taking rest.


We all know about the cycles of life even if we would sometimes rather they not tug at us the way they do: day yields to night, summer to winter, youth to maturity, life to death. Yoga practitioners know that the breath cycle is the ultimate expression of expansion, contraction and renewal (life, death and rebirth):  Inhaling, we fill the well; at the top of the inhalation, we crest and plateau; during exhalation, we intentionally release; and at the bottom of the exhalation, we rest before drawing in a new breath.

Even if we “know” this, it bears repeating that the creative cycle is much like this: a project begins with inspiration – the youthful, energetic and expansive period filled with information gathering and “visioning”; after which we embark on the work of making/manifesting (a process itself replete with expanding and contracting mini cycles). We are riding the crest of the wave and will soon begin the process of completion – a winding down and release of the work into the world.  After the “expiration” of the project, there is space, a sort of void, within which to rest and receive new inspiration.  And thus the well is filled again for the next creative cycle.

Alas, while this rest, this period of deep contraction, is as essential to creative work as the actual making is, it is also supremely undervalued in our society. Rather than honoring the importance of quiet contemplation and reflection inherent in all creative cycles, we more systematically reward continual, expansive and ever “higher” achievement loops.  So is it any wonder we struggle with the contracted side of any cycle?  We are programmed to keep working, keep something perpetually in motion, something ready for launch.  At any hint of a deceleration, of a contracting of energy, we wind up pushing ourselves even harder, becoming emotionally and physically exhausted in the effort.  It is no mere platitude that life is a turning, a constant rotation between motion and rest (and the spaces in between) – it is a universal imperative.  We can neither artificially perpetuate the expansive phases any more than we can permanently dissolve, banish, or repress the contracted phases.


So dear self/friend, remember: Pay attention to your inner cues. If you are feeling “out of synch” you may be revving up when you need to be downshifting – you may just need 24 hours (or you may need 24 days)….but know that resisting the natural progression of a creative cycle is detrimental to the creative process and your health.  The work becomes hollow and repetitive; the body/mind becomes frayed and tattered.  When the time comes, just surrender and turn inward.  Reclaim the right to rest and swim in the deep void – you will be rewarded!  

Summer Greetings from Studio Mariposa!

July already (yikes!!) and still much to do to pull everything together for the ACC San Francisco experience.   It has been a veritable 3-ring circus (in my mind and in the studio) – between making and selecting finished work, creating an inexpensive, dynamic and functional set-up for a 10×10 booth, lining up the logistics for the trip, keeping my energy level up and my body in top felt-rolling condition, and staying open to new inspiration for future work.  After many years of making, this is my first major show and I have been assisted at every level by other artists, family and friends who want to see this project finally take off (fingers crossed!).  I am extremely grateful for their help (and I will be mentioning them, one by one, as the show approaches); producing an event like this definitely takes a village, as they say!  I have been doing my part, working at a steady pace now.  Given the physical demands of the technique, I am focusing on quality rather than quantity.  The work is varied and features functional textiles along with some fine-art relief pieces and other fiber-based artwork.

In addition to my own booth, I was invited to collaborate with SF interior designer Jiun Ho  in the ACC/SF  Make Room  installation.  Back in May, I created a new wall piece along with 10 new Shelters for Transformation for the installation (some below for some images).  Other artists and designers will be featured, as well, in this series of vignettes promoting the use of fine craft objects in interior design.  Images from this portion of the show will appear in the August/September issue of American Craft.

In other news, my spring petal-una collection was well received…in fact, I completely sold out!…I have already begun dying for my Fall collection which will be out in late-September.  Looks like a busy high-summer on the horizon but meanwhile….many plates in the air and the focus now is on the ACC show.  I have just revamped my website – please check it out – and I will continue to shoot more photographs of the work as it is finished.  From this point forward, selected images and other info/commentary will be posted more regularly on a number of platforms – this blog, Facebook, Instagram (my handle: kathycoltartisan) and I will be resuming my Twitter feed (@kathy_colt).  The studio work is my priority but I want to include you in the adventure!  Thanks for reading/following/commenting/sharing!



laurelblossom1sreMy ritual review of the past year is over.  I look back on a year dedicated to recovering and reknitting pieces of a vision and a dream.  I am happy to be firmly back on the path and its relevant parallel investigations.

A new year is always so fresh with possibility –  a symbol of hope for renewal and reinvention – infused with a trust that we will be graced with the strength, wisdom and balance to meet another turning of the wheel.  This year, I seek further integration –  a uniting of the loose ends, side-windings and insights of the past year with the patience, plodding, and open heart/mind needed for the next phase of the adventure.  Through a fusion of movement and stillness/nakedness and adornment/earthly pondering and ineffable direct-knowing/under the influence of mountain and ocean, I add to the story I tell myself about existence on this small orb called Earth, Erde, Tierra, Terre, Terra, Gaia…

Even in the uncertainty and chaos which mark this point in the early 21st century, my heart thumps with excitement.  I am grateful to be on a coherent path and engaging fully with the next phase of the Work.  I wish for all of us a clear path going forward, one rich with grace and hope, clarity of purpose and intention, and of course, good fortune/abundance, both tangible and intangible.

K.C. Atlanta/January, 2014



When I began what I now consider to be my calling and my career (even if my path doesn’t quite fit into the conventional notion of one), I was working with a Spanish language tutor (my friend, Gloria).  Gloria delighted in pointing out the words she really loved – words which rolled off the tongue and really spoke of their true meanings…encanta, gusta, gloriosamariposa.  I loved and still love that word –mariposa– – it so magically conveys the fragility and vulnerability of the cocoon-state, but also contains the delightful freedom of the future-unfurling insect within.  And then there is the symbolism of renewal, rebirth and transformation contained in that word and the creature so-named.  The word “mariposa”  even has a circular quality when spoken – mari-posa mari-posa – like a rondo’s conclusion seamlessly reuiniting with its beginning, or an incantation reinforcing itself with each new utterance.  So, I felt this word and this idea were at the heart of my new creative undertaking: ideas + vision + raw materials + hope, incubated and released, making room for a new round of work, all the while being nourished by the recurring nature of the process.

I have alluded in other posts to a transition away from my creative immersion into a new phase of work.  That change signaled a metamorphosis – a movement beyond the cocoon.  The notion of the “return” is still a part of my process, but the embrace expands to include something larger – as if I have taken flight, still searching, but firmly on the path – and each creative act is a reunion of self with the enormous potential of the cosmos and a chance to dance with star-dust.  It is humbling to realize through all of this that I am a finite container on the third planet from the sun, situated within a vast solar system, engulfed by an even more impossibly-large galaxy, in a sea of galaxies filling the unfathomable universe….and butterflies are still free.