Invented Biology

Karen Kamenetzky’s biomorphic fiber art
Karen Kamenetzky always loved to paint and draw, but life’s detours took her away from her passion. Who knew the microscopic beginnings of life would lead to a rich and textured one as a fiber artist.
Before becoming recognized for her fiber art wall hangings, Kamentzky took a more conventional path that led her to teaching and working as a psychologist. Drawn to the tactile nature of textiles, Kamenetzky veered back to art when she took on the challenge of hand-stitching a quilt. Her biomorphic creations, however, were born after viewing the photographs that charted the development of an embryo to fetus by Swedish photojournalist Lennart Nilsson in A Child is Born. “I was blown away by the technology of the electron microscope and started looking online for more images,” Kamenetzky said.
Kamenetzky calls her fiber art “invented biology” and is heavily inspired by that microscopic and cellular imagery that fascinates her so much. She starts with the basics— a sketch of a doodled image, a composition design, or a texture until a shape emerges that excites her. “I fall in love with a certain line or curve or shape of negative space and feel psyched to work with it. The few times I’ve tried to skip the sketch step- I get lost easily, lose my way and it begins to feel forced and frustrating.” This reinterpreted view of biology through fiber art focuses and zooms in, like an electron microscope, on the fundamental nature of life, but also touches a deeper conscious and spiritual level for both creator and viewer.
Working primarily with silk and cotton as well as wool and other fibers, Kamenetsky adds rich hues of color using dye and paint. Dense stitching adds lines of depth, shadow and color. Her process she writes on her blog is messy filled with confidence, “…full of beans decisions that result, days later, in ripped out stitches and frayed fabric (and confidence). These false starts often do result in new ideas that I’m happier with but I rarely remember that as I’m ripping those stitches out. Years later, I can look at one of my pieces and still see places where I should have headed in some other direction.” 
Kamenetzky’s large-scale wall hangings can be viewed at Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts based in her hometown of Brattleboro, VT.  Currently, she is working on smaller pieces for Brattleboro West Arts, an upcoming show with 13 other artists that kicks off December 2nd. 
For more information, visit


Please signup or login to comment