Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Featured Artists: Donna Kjonaas and Vicki Kessler

 During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Donna Kjonaas and Vicki Kessler

Nighttime in the Purple Garden
Collaborative Art Statement

    What sustains us?  What nurtures us?  What holds us in connection?  What is satisfying?  What is enough? What challenges turn us toward awareness?  Collaborative, contemporary fiber artists Donna Kjonaas and Vicki Kessler explore these fundamental questions in their artwork as they reclaim and repurpose objects recycled from mass consumer culture. 

    Fiber with historic value or purpose, manipulated through processes such as felting, discharge, monoprinting, over-dying, painting and stamping becomes an intricate surface.  This substantive background suggests the value and richness of meaning accumulated over time. Use of stitch, beads and buttons offers an additional connection to the past, recalling the humble task of hand sewing performed by women over the centuries. Embellishment with yarn, found objects and other fiber adds depth to emerging layers and hones composition. What was once old, worn or faded emerges as energetic, new and unexpected creation: a mystery and enduring gift.

    Our art serves as container, providing a symbolic point of return for thoughtful reflection and contemplation.  Three dimensional Vessels have central, open spaces. Small Folk Art Quilts and Hand Held Altars feature integrated pockets that reveal and conceal. Layered fiber compositions invite deliberation, providing a place to rest our thoughts and feelings.  Tactile and interactive, this art opens and expands imagination.  

    Engage with the textiles by following a line of beads or blended color.  Count the parts that make the whole.  Discover the alternating and repetitive patterns.  Feel the strong center and attend to harmony that emerges through use of scale, contrast, texture and embellishment. Enjoy the bursts of color and surface design.  Let appreciation become fulfilling, and beauty bring clarity.
Nighttime in the Purple Garden, detail
Biographical Statement:  Vicki Kessler

     My first stitches, uneven and unsteady, were fashioned with bits of yarn on left-over scraps of fabric.  Sneaking into my mother’s sewing basket for small treasures, I sought to repeat the image of beauty everywhere around me in my homeland of southwest Wisconsin.  The wide and turbulent Mississippi River taught me about the subtleties of color shading.  Muddy, brown shore waters gradually shifted toward blue until they reached the islands, where greenish hues took center stage.  Tall, verdant hills with rocky outcrops demonstrated the power of texture and contrast.  Wild, dappled valleys revealed their secrets in undulating rhythms and surprising bursts of color.  These true delights of earth became my first teachers.

    Color, rhythm and shape are key components in my art.  As in nature, the whole is more than the sum of parts.  The hideous stands beside the beautiful, the predictable companions the surprise, the exotic and the mundane are born in the same ground. The ancient, seasoned and well-worn offers perspective.  Newly emerging patterns bring a leap of inspiration.

      Working with old fabric, linens, quilts, yarn, sweaters and clothing provides a balance to consumptive patterns and habits that threaten us. It offers an opportunity to reflect on values of connection and relationship, and helps me feel that with each stitch, I am mending a little portion of the world. 

    Vicki Kessler, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, was born and raised in southwest Wisconsin.  She currently resides in Waterloo, Iowa.  She is a self-taught fiber artist who has been experimenting with cloth and stitch since childhood.  Vicki is a founding member of The Women’s Fiber Art Collective in Madison, Wisconsin.  Her work is permanently installed in the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ in DeForest, Wisconsin; Pilgrim Heights Retreat Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin; First Congregational United Church of Christ and Community of Hope United Church of Christ, both in Madison, Wisconsin.
In the Reeds
Biographical Statement:  Donna Kjonaas

    The abundant, wide-open plains of North Dakota stretched into endless horizon under the dome of blue sky; this became first home to my imagination.  Grain fields waving in the wind marked time through seasons of planting, growth, harvest and rest. In life on the land, invention is the mother of necessity. Leftover utensils and farm tools made toys.  Hand-made clothing became a treasure, passed-down, taken-in, let out and refashioned for the next child in line.  Food from large gardens, preserved for the coming season, created an exhibit of form, color and texture.  Nothing ever wasted; potential found and cultivated beyond the present purpose.

    Reclaimed and repuposed materials such as linens, clothing, sweaters and quilts are transfomed into compositions that hone principles of color, scale and texture, rich as the land of my birth. Seasonal palettes of prairie landscape dance through my work, varying from the intense green of spring to the golden-yellow hues of fall.  Dakota’s characteristic expansive swaths of land find reflection in techniques of collage, piecing and stitching.   Buttons, beads, thread and yarns are found objects that become embellishments building layers of texture.  Raw materials, old and worn with accumulated history, evolve expressively into art that honors the continuity of life made fresh for a new day and time.

    Donna Kjonaas, a retired United Methodist minister, was born and raised in North Dakota.  She currently divides her time between residences in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Sanibel, Florida.  Interested in fiber and beauty from childhood, she has a background in clothing construction and quilting.  Her creative impulse along with her affinity for innovation soon led to exploration of non-conventional methods and materials in her artistic compositions.  She has taken several classes in paper-making, painting and book arts.

In the Reeds, detail


1 comment:

  1. Are all the art works in this post collaborative works?