The process of self discovery is a little like packing a suitcase for a long trip. So many variables to consider that what you ‘think you might need’ is in reality no more than a mere guess. The assumptions and first thoughts are only the beginning. And I’ve read (and lived) that it isn’t really where you are on the big kaleidoscope of places to start, it’s how a person adapts and makes changes with all of the new information pouring in. Beginning a trip of self discovery is a seminal event in a thinking person’s life.
So it was with the month long Women’s Art Institute course Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker took at St. Catherine University in June, 2013. Mind blowing and life changing were two descriptors Kristin used to describe the impact the conversations, relationships and opportunity for self discovery had on her thoughts about ‘big picture’ art and her fiber art specifically. Her group of sixteen peers formulated questions that act as guide posts along their paths. Two of the questions opened discussion about intention and authenticity.
How important is my process to my work, and does my process support my intention? How do I know when this happens?
How can I cultivate fearless creative energy in my studio practice? What are my barriers to authentic expression?
One of the outcomes of the course is for participants to have clarity and be able to chart their next (and next) steps. Right now Kristin says she feels submerged in her discovery but is also using the collaborative process to aid her journey. Within the past year, she has started to work with a group of eight members of the Minnesota chapter of the Surface Design Association. The efforts have been concrete and rewarding. Their first exhibit called, “Taste of 8” opened at Gallery1639 in St. Paul and runs through September. The process of exhibition opens the doors to the vitality of corroboration and warranted authenticity. One of the key steps in creating art.
Kristin is focusing on two recurring themes in her work at this time. They play off each other in ways that share information about the person Kristin with the viewer. (Yes, I’m aware I’m trying to separate the person from the artist!) She named her portfolios Revelation and Preservation. Both reflect her love of travel and immersion. Through her Preservation portfolio Kristin explores what we keep. Influenced by Austrailian India Flint and her ideas regarding eco-dyeing and printing on cloth, Kristin believes those processes are a form of preservation in which at that moment; nature is preserved on the cloth. Plants and corresponding dyes are unique to their locale and Kristin includes this in her work. She selects botanicals from her garden, along the roadside, from her kids’ colleges and from where she grew up in central Iowa, too.
Once selected, she bundles them in silk or wool cloth and lets them sit in the dyepot for days or even weeks as they ‘cure’. She consideres them ‘art in waiting’ as they are raw materials not yet made into the finished product. The above 2 images are an example of her newest work whose materials were eco-dyed. With this piece she experiments with three dimensional and sculptural work in an installation format. This piece was first exhibited at the Textile Center Members Show in January, 2014.
Not always looking into the dyepot stew; Kristin says she couldn’t live without her computer and camera. This is where location and immersion meet once again. A savvy photographer, Kristin takes many photos during her worldwide travels. Her question, “what do you see?” is the inspiration for her Revelation portfolio. Using her computer, she sends images off to Spoonflower to print on large pieces of fabric. She then layers another piece of fabric over the photo image and begins to layout her composition. The creation process of this portfolio has gives Kristin a real sense of anticipation because the image is completely covered by the whole cloth. She uses a reverse applique technique by embroidering the outlines of her composition and when the fabric is ‘quilted’ together, she trims out the centers of the top fabric to reveal the image above. What filter does your mind employ and does that change what you see?
Kristin is fascinated with textiles because she feels cloth plays a very important role in our collective human history. From our earliest experiences we have been surrounded by fiber. Clothing, bedclothes, upholstery, rugs, towels–all of these textiles are inextricably woven through our lives. We use textiles for self protection, self expression in what we wear and the design and functionality in our housekeeping. Our memories are bound by textiles historically made from the hands of our caretakers. We make things for each other using cloth and fiber. Grandmother’s quilts, Aunt Edith’s baby sweaters and Martha’s handbags.
These artifacts enrich our lives and are the shared stories of our relationships. It is those stories Kristin is most interested in. With intentional thoughtfulness a good question may be; what do we decide to keep on the way to discovering what we shall become? Preservation and Revelation; two sides of the same journey.