Updated: Oct 30, 2021
Last night symposium-goers were treated to artist talks by Portland artist, Kristy Kún and Toronto artist Jennifer Tsuchida. The occasion was a marvellous opportunity for participants to hear from the artists themselves as they described their techniques, their careers, vision and how the work they create has evolved.
From Kristy Kún's talk we learned about her evolution as a fibre artist and how her early work constructing Arts & Crafts inspired furniture from reclaimed wood like wine casks and dismantled buildings informs her work today. Evidence of her interest in grain, pattern and alignment is easy to spot once one knows about her past endeavours.
Kristy finished working with furniture when she separated from her business partner and she moved from California to Oregon. She became aware of felt as a medium as her daughter attended a Waldorf School.
As she began learning about the felting process she was inspired by the work of Jenne Giles of Harlequin Feltworks. The artisanal felt studio is dedicated to creating unique pieces of wearable art combining painterly colour, sculptural form and contemporary fashion design. Though very different in scope from Kristy’s work one can see echoes of its influence.
For five years Kristy was a supplier for DHG the well-known fibre distributors from Italy. She also hosted workshops in her at home studio, learning from the artists that visited . “It was a great time” she says. It broadened her knowledge of fibre and felting techniques.
In 2015, when she was questioning the direction she was moving in and needing inspiration she was introduced The Frogwood Collective. This collective is a diverse, inclusive community of artists who share a passion for working collaboratively. They are dedicated to arts training, education, and collaborative interaction. Each year they create a one of a kind piece that they auction off. This project brings together all kinds of makers: print makers, jewellers, metal smiths, carpenters, basket makers, blacksmiths and more. They share skills and learn from each other. Working with the group, encouraged Kristy.
Around this time she tried working for another maker but it didn’t work out. The experience was good though. It worked like a short coffee break. She returned to her home studio feeling more passionate about her art.
Kristy’s process continues to evolve but one thing that remains constant is that her hands are continually in water, kneading, rubbing, and teasing fibre. She is always trying to grasp the underwater movement of the felt.
In her new felt works she is still “chasing the grain,” trying to capture the light. Recently her work was exhibited at Portland’s Waterstone Gallery.
The exhibition, Hands in Water, features experimental hand felted textiles by Kristy and carved wood sculpture by Michael de Forest. Michael created a sculpture of Kristy’s hands especially for the show. Hands in Water explores the idea that our capacity for creativity is realized not only by our mind, but by our entire body.
Kristy’s teaches interactive workshops online
Jennifer Tsuchida’s artist talk began with her explaining to the audience that she’s a terrible procrastinator. A confession that’s difficult to believe given the energy and depth of her work.
Her interest in felting began after she spotted a beautiful felted sofa and became determined to make it. She was so drawn to learn she even bought a how-to book about felting. She never used it.
Then about ten-years ago, she fell in a bike accident on her way to work. Toronto’s a dangerous place to bike but luckily she wasn’t badly hurt. She could’ve been killed. The accident got her thinking about the importance of pursuing her passions. She decided to stop procrastinating.
Jennifer is a self-taught artist, who believes in experimentation. Instead of sleeping at night, she often felts in her head. She works intuitively, using her inspiration as her guide. When creating she follows her gut and not her head. She’s not interested in working on a series or a theme but likes to follow her creative whims. She makes wearables as well as objects and wall hangings. She’s well known for her fabulous bags, collars, broaches and scarves. Her wearable art is both functional and gorgeous. Think big bold colours.
Her objects are created by using both traditional and modern felt making techniques. She often incorporates other mediums in her work. Her piece for felt :: feutre canada’s exhibition Shrine Self-Reverence incorporates doll parts photographs, knitting and crochet. Many of Jennifer’s art objects are concerned with themes of identity and society.
Her work has been exhibited in traditional and non traditional gallery spaces both nationally and internationally. Her work is collected by buyers in Canada, the United States, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan.
To learn about taking a workshop with Jennifer visit her website.