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  • Artist-Statement_image-credit_Michael-Mauney

STRONGFELT Statement

My studio practice is an outgrowth of a childhood salvation that I found in transforming chaos into something I could control. Reacting to the unquestionable vulnerability of life became the lens through which I perceive and create. Still to this day, as a professional artist and educator, I find high value in the focus, patience, and dexterous control involved in manipulating physical materials. I am inspired by humanity’s age-old relationship with traditional craft materials and how they have been handled/processed over time and in different cultures. The renewable resources of plant and animal fiber, their use in sheltering and comforting the body and the historical predominance of women working these materials motivated my decision to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fiber Arts in 1997.

Since, I have developed a keen interest in the use of natural dyes from minerals, plants and insects and find using them in work that has relevance to their originating purpose, particularly satisfying. Cochineal bugs color the nests of hungry baby birds in Need to Nurture and protective nut hulls and bark are used to dye wood grain patterned handbags that hold collections of our material comforts such as in  Framed. I found the indigo dying process, which needs an oxygen reduced solution to develop the color blue, significant for pieces in my Glacial Transformation Series. Ablation, illustrates my breathlessness while witnessing first hand the cleaving of this irreplaceable resource. Similarly, it is the protective nature of wool, its origin as a secondary layer to the skin, that attracts my use of it in body adornment and figurative sculpture. In addition to the wet felting process, high heat submersion dye baths further shrink the wool fibers, and free-motion embroidery compacts the remaining airspace to create a dense STRONGFELT.

My business name is a double entendre which acknowledges that there is an association between the physical properties of wool and our senses; I feel strongly. I find that not only do the qualities of wool comfort and conceal, but also coaxing the mayhem of thousands of filaments into felted form satisfies my psyche by externalizing agitation and pressure and provides a sense of agency. I sculpt through contraction, a relationship between space and mass, or what is unknown and known. The thinner the initial layout of fibers, the more space for their integration. In Muzzle, a densely fulled, yet malleable skin reveals the underlying grid work, analogous to dynamics of family and society that inevitably shapes human form and personhood, despite an individual’s efforts to take space from such. In Foundation, a dialogue about the perception of strength is achieved through extreme differential shrinkage. By embedding an armature of thick, rigid felt shapes within a thin, twelve-foot layout around a resist, a flexible two-foot spine is engineered.