SUBMITTED BY KAREN HENDERSON
In my work, I’m interested in the connections between self, place, emotion, and time. Seasons, atmospheres, memories and dreams intrigue me. I try to capture ephemeral, fleeting moments through the use of color, line, and texture in fabrics and mixed media. Nature and landscape are a continual source of inspiration.
Occasionally I have specific places in mind for a piece. Other times, I simply begin–and see it goes. Photos taken while I’m out in nature are a good starting point. I sketch, mainly for composition or proportion. When I work larger, I need to plan the piece out in advance. (My loom is small, so the sections get pieced together.)
Many of the processes I choose to use, like weaving and stitching, are very slow and contemplative–encouraging introspection. I love the rhythm of weaving and stitching for that very reason. For me, these activities are a way of marking time, a record of some sort, of my thoughts and feelings over time. Other processes I use–like dyeing and painting–are more spontaneous and unpredictable. I try to find a balance between the approaches. The challenge of re-creating moments in in these materials is endlessly fascinating for me.
When I weave, often I use plain, natural color linens, silks, or paper yarns. Using mostly plain weave, and occasionally tapestry, techniques, I explore variations of textures, densities, and transparencies with the different yarn types. This allows me to create my own canvas for further exploration when dyeing and layering. Dye processes include techniques such as shibori and batik resists, direct painting, gradation dye, as well as color removal. Sometimes I incorporate rust printing.
Once I have the main layer where it feels right, then other fabrics are layered either underneath or on top of the main layer (or both). Sometimes I piece weavings with the fabrics I haven’t woven. I’ve also done the hand stitching first, before any dyeing…Basically, there is no one same approach; each piece is different. Dimension is added with sewing tucks, or other fabric manipulation. Textures are enhanced with hand stitching, adding color and individual marks. While they may not be obvious from a distance, they are important aspects of the work. Another very important part of any of my processes includes just looking at the piece over time. While it’s a passive activity, it’s extremely important, this quiet consideration.
Lately I’ve been experimenting with mixed media techniques (such as textured acrylic paints, inks, and color pencil) alongside my textile approaches. It’s an exciting development, and I look forward to finding the relationships in these diverse methods.
Themes that I explore in my work are paths, reflection, and atmosphere. The square or rectangle as a motif in some of my work acts as a smaller composition within the whole…To me they signify a shorter moment in in time, within a larger interval. Lately this motif is opening up, to me symbolizing the essence of energy, or a source of light.
To view more of Karen’s art, visit her website. (http://www.karenhendersonfiber.com). To see works in progress, visit her blog (http://www.karenhendersonfiber.com/blog).