A Traveling Catalyst

Sharon Kallis receives TSA’s Lillian Elliott Award

The Lillian Elliott Award was presented at the Textile Society of America’s Biennial Symposium held this past October in Lincoln. The recipient, Sharon Kallis of Vancouver, BC, has collaborated for the past few years with environmentalists, ecologists, and community members to forge a human/landscape relationship of stewardship and attention.

Kallis’ creative process is driven by the twin desires to bring community involvement into the local management of invasive species, and to use ancient textile processes to turn the harvested plant materials back into a form that will support the re-establishment of native flora and fauna. To this end, she has worked most recently on the “Ivy Project” at Stanley Park. The park was being over-run by English ivy, so Kallis and volunteers from the Stanley Park Ecology Society removed almost five hectares of invasive material. The vines were dried and then netted, crocheted, or spool knitted into nurse logs and bio netting to hold eroding soil in place long enough for new native growth to return. As these elements gradually decay and allow for a succession of growth, the environment will become a collaborator as well, bringing the cycle full circle.

Kallis describes her role as that of “a traveling catalyst,” a new element in the environment, spring-boarding the community into seeing the local landscape from a fresh perspective. Traditions of handwork, often springing directly out of the locale into which they are re-deployed by Kallis, underline a way of being present that is often divorced from our actual experience of being in a place.

Sharon Kallis has held residencies in Canada, the US, and most recently Catalonia, Spain, working with communities and woodlands. By learning traditional making processes from elders and then re-inserting them into the environment in this collaborative way, she encourages dialogue, fosters communication across different segments of the community, and literally knits together the landscape and the people who inhabit it.

The Lillian Elliott Award for Excellence in Fiber Art is presented at the Textile Society of America’s Biennial Symposium Banquet by the Lillian Elliott Award Board. It is a unique award, in that it supports the work of con- temporary fiber artists.

Recently the name of the award was officially changed to The Brandford/Elliott Award for Excellence in Fiber Art, honoring two late and beloved fiber artists, Joanne Segal Brandford and Lillian Elliott. Donations in support of this award may be sent to:
Barbara Goldberg, 74 Sargent Beechwood, Brookline, MA 02445-7542, or email her at bgoldberg@umassd.edu.

For more information about Sharon Kallis, please visit http://sharonkallis.com.

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