As an artist/designer/craftsperson, I rarely felt alienated from my work during Pandemic 1.0, although the work and focus have certainly changed. Fortunately, inspiration abounds and I continue to make, if only for myself(!). We can all probably attest to the the foundation not feeling as steady as it did before – not quite back to “normal”…and sometimes, we may feel we (collectively) are regressing…. but we press on. And so it goes in my world. Here’s what’s been happening (at least some of it) and what’s on the horizon.
The third piece in my natural dye series revolves around printing/mark-making (specifically on cloth) with thickened natural dyes. 9/18-19/21, SEFAA Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more.
Much of my decorative and fine art work is created with naturally dyed cloth, including emerging 3-dimensional work and hand-stitched, applique layered modules. This work continues. See more about 3-D and Stitched Modules.
My “artisan apparel” line, Petal-Una Collection continues, for now. This container for my wearable work is now entering its 10th year! From this point forward, I’ll be celebrating its unfolding as I continue to create a limited number of RTW and custom hand-dyed/painted/printed wearable pieces. Look for changes in the coming year as this part of my practice enters its next phase. Visit the Petal Website to see more.
This year, I was invited to submit work to The Hambidge Center auction (www.hambidgeauction.org). If you don’t know about it, Hambidge is a non-profit arts center in the North Georgia mountains offering short-term residencies, as well as other programs and events. I have not yet experienced a residency, but my work has – in years past, I have had pieces in the Weave Shed Gallery at the mountain campus; I’ve also had work in past auctions. I have always felt honored to be included with the amazing and diverse group of artists featured at each auction.
While an historically live event, things are a bit different this year. Much of the process will take place virtually. As an adjunct to that, I thought I would tell you a bit about the pieces I have in the auction. Bidding started on 10/9/20 and will continue until 9:00 pm on October 24. Typically there are two components to the auction – one, a fixed-price gallery with 2-D works and then the auction itself.
My offering for the fixed-price segment is entitled “Network One” – Monoprint on paper, enriched with ink, pastel and gold leaf. It is a stand-alone artwork part of a larger and continuing series of pieces with the same character and foundation. I was trained in a discipline (Landscape Architecture) which, at the time, relied on hand-rendering/2-D graphic skills for project design, process mapping, and previsualization. (I went to school during that window when working in CAD was an elective pursuit!) Fast-forward, as a textile and fiber artist I continue to spend a certain amount of time working on paper. Much of my 2-D work now is still rendered by hand and is primarily process sketching. Occasionally though, the results become part of a different sort of thought process. The idea of “networks” is not a new one in art, and especially not in fiber art. This is my contribution to that conversation. This work is on-going. Check out more from the series here.
My main piece is Sheltering in Place: A Meditation Series – Weld Appliqué Diptych This project was launched at the beginning of “lockdown” (March, 2020) as part of an on-going exploration of natural dyes. As time passed, the repetitive rhythm of hand stitching became a source of daily calm during the anxious early days of the pandemic. As a diptych, they are metaphorically “hinged” by process and intention. As part of a series, they are a witness to the moment and reservoir of hope for the future.
I continue to work with natural dyes and create these modules. While I have several other pieces along these lines, the fresh, Spring-like, warmth of the Weld color feels the essence of hope as we continue to slog our way through this current version of normal. I hope you will visit the auction and support the Center (www.hambidge.org). Here is a video short I put together about the Sheltering piece and process.
Things have been quite busy in the studio and I realize I have not posted since November of 2018! (Again, best laid plans – I am beginning to see pattern here (wince)!) However, after this little update, I have some natural dye reflections I initiated back in March and never got around to publishing, among other things. As “archaic” as this format sometimes seems, it still has relevance across the spectrum. For me, it serves a real purpose, which I had lost track of for a spell but now reclaim: writing as process-witness.
My practice continues to evolve. Two full years after a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, I never thought I would find myself in a hopeful place around my studio work…but I do again. I finally found my way back to the heart of the work, to my true flow, and that feels pretty fabulous. The work begins to look and feel different to me although clearly on the continuum of a process begun so many years ago. And while I have never been one to rest too long on one technique – I am sure that is my Aries nature – I am still working with cloth and fiber because there is still so much there to explore!
So, before I resume essay-esque pursuits, I thought I might just provide an update for the record – a brief flashback to the first several months of 2019 as a way of clearing the way for whatever is to come.
January: Lots of natural dye experimentation – mostly direct application and immersion variations with indigo, madder, tannins and ferrous after-baths. Began working on my new wearable collection for the April open studio. I also began experimenting with alternate hand-stitch processes which have now been incorporated into some of my wearable work. In the midst of the studio experimentation, I was immersed in preparations for a presentation on Sustainable Making at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance.
February: I continued working with natural dyes, mostly direct application with gum thickeners, exploring layering of color and assistants in various floating (unregistered) patterns on a wide range of cloth surfaces. The process of working with natural dyes is much more labor- and time-intensive than working with their synthetic alternatives and because of this, the work feels almost contemplative. I want to explore this entire complex topic in future posts. But for now, suffice it to say that natural dye print processes are now a solid part of my studio practice. Also ever-present now is my organic indigo vat, and I did get around to making some new pieces for a local craft pop-up and the first installment of the 2019 wearables.
March 2019: My time in March was largely spent preparing for the April open studio, although I did take some time to facilitate an indigo-dyeing mini-workshop at the studio one fortuitously-gorgeous Spring morning. I also received my copy of The Art and Science of Natural Dyes (yay!) and reflected on my early exposure to natural dyes with Catharine Ellis which work has so thoroughly enriched my current studio practice.
In April – I hosted an open studio and continued to develop more work, including a new collection of totes, as well as naturally dyed cloth, and stitched appliqué detailing. All of my wearable work is presented under the label Petal-una Collection. This line has been an active focus of my creative energy since 2012. If you want to learn more about it and see more looks follow this link.
All of which brings me to the present moment. I will save that for next time! Meanwhile for fairly regular and consistent check-ins, I am on Instagram and FB – the links are scattered throughout this website. If you would prefer to keep up via this blog, that is awesome too!
I recently visited a friend in the fair city of Guanajuato, GTO Mexico – I have been there before and in fact posted in this blog about that trip as well. This visit was a bit different as life-altering experiences had emerged in my recent past, as well as that of my friend. As a result, we both set out with the intention of sewing the seeds of rejuvenation. It really became a launch of the essence of “re” – a return, revisiting, renewal, reinvigoration, revitalization, restoration, revisiting and review on the way toward a new point of beginning. Signs and signals, resources and connections began and continue to be revealed to both of us as we progress through this new terrain.
My images from this trip varied but seemed to have a decidedly architectural focus, especially where roof/facade and sky meet. I was also understandably attracted to the many templos (churches and cathedrals) which populate the religious landscape of Guanajuato (Gto). The architectural residue of a bye-gone colonial era is enriched with structural and superficial decay, but these buildings endure – maybe that was a metaphor taking hold. Even in cases where the buildings have been renovated or “restored” with a nod to another era’s sensibilities, their original presence does not fade. I realize in retrospect that this was a profound symbol of solidity and grounding after a year of standing on shaky ground. In any case, these buildings are essential landmarks which give the entire State of Guanajuato its character, along with the many-colored domiciles stacked on the slopes surrounding the city’s natural structural essence – that of river valley. Indeed, when I arrived, the rainy season had just begun and the imperative of the geographic low point repeatedly asserted itself during my trip as flooding from recurring thunderstorms regularly inundated parts of the city. Of course, the rain also brought a renewal of a green, lush landscape latent during months of seasonal drought in this high desert region.
Rain notwithstanding, I was pleased that we were able to make it outside to see art and eat excellent food, including the most moist and delicious tamal I have ever tasted (thanks to, my sincere apologies to vegetarians, lard). ¡Nos veremos en el futuro, sin duda, Guanajuato! For a slightly different perspective on the trip, visit my wearable site’s journal.
This journal has revolved around my enriching experiences running a small textile/fiber studio. Now more than ever I am revived and inspired to continue recording my reflections on those experiences. After a year of health issues, I have returned to the studio to reunite the many strands of my practice and forge a path forward. Here’s a recap/update of how things have unfolded/are unfolding so far this year. My focus until recently has been my wearable work so I will start with it.
I have been spending more technical and production energy on developing fabrics for my micro wearable line, Petal-Una Collection (where you can also find my Petal Insta and FB page links). Between dips in my indigo vat and direct application (painting and printing) of natural dyes, I am shifting my wearable practice to incorporate cloth enriched with more naturally sourced colorants. I have written in the past about my intention to integrate naturally sourced colorants into my work and to address sustainability in my own studio practice. As a small textile and fiber workshop, I am arguably already producing a sustainable product but there is always room for improvement. From examining material sourcing and supply chains, to energy use, and material waste reduction and reclamation, I continue to look for ways in which I can be more sustainable as an artist/designer-maker. It is a process. A major step for me is the embrace of more conscious fabric enrichment practices in my wearable work. About Petal-Una: Every season I produce a ready-to-wear group (as well as commissioned work). I market my wearable pieces through studio events and, when available, on-line.
Decorative/Interior. I have focused primarily on felted works in the decorative realm but I am currently developing a new collection of textiles incorporating the technical groundwork I laid while creating cloth for the Petal-Una collection (as noted above). These decorative works will include a new line of architectural 2-d pieces. Images will be coming in the next couple of months. In the Atlanta area, his work is exclusively represented by Markay Gallery in Marietta, Georgia. Links to the Kathy Colt Artisan Insta and FB pages are in the left sidebar on the homepage of this website.
Special Creative Projects/Artwork. I am also in the process of developing new work pathways in this stream. Of all of my work subsets, this is the most related to personal excavation, elucidation, and articulation. Its development marches behind that of its more visible creative siblings but it is still alive and well. I will have more to say about this work in the future.
Teaching. Finally, looking ahead, I will be reintroducing the teaching component into my studio practice and outreach. Workshops will resume this Fall (2018). Information and a calendar will be coming soon and will be announced in the usual locations.