My most cherished childhood memories center on fabric - the comfort of a blanket edged in silk, the feel of a well-worn cotton tee, the nubby texture of a hand-knit sweater. As the daughter of a mother who teaches in the field of fashion and design, I was acutely aware at a young age of the transformational properties of clothing. My artistic interests were equally shaped by my grandmother. Guided by her firm hands, unwieldy lengths of fabric were coaxed to behave, ultimately shaped into a variety of forms marked by perfect, crisp seams. The drama that surrounded the cutting of the fabric felt epic – she possessed such confidence as she sliced thorough layers of cloth, following the edges of the whisper-thin tissue paper that outlined its eventual shape. My grandmother taught me to decode the language of patterns, to sew, and later, to knit, crochet, and embroider.
When I discovered shibori, I was awed by the limitless possibilities inherent in this ancient Japanese dyeing process. Areas of pure color are seamlessly blended in an endless variety of tints and shades, revealing where color meets resist, creating a rich visual texture that transcends the notion of pattern. My experimentation with dyes introduced me to felting, and I am fascinated by the sculptural properties of wool. Nuno felting enables me to combine my own fabrics with wool to add depth and dimension to my wearable pieces. I feel that my pieces’ wearability enhances, rather than detracts from, their depth. That the work will be worn is significant, indeed essential, to its artistic value. It is when the work is worn—when the wearer imbues it with her own sense of style and integrates it into her daily life—that the work truly comes to life.
Kachina Martin is a fiber artist who teaches art and art history at Muhlenberg High School in Laureldale, PA. She earned a B.A. in English and French with an Art History minor at Albright College; she received her Master’s in Art History from Temple University. Kachina has also studied fiber arts at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, the University of the Arts, Touchstone Center for Crafts, and Cannon Hill Studios.
In addition to her work as a public educator, Kachina has also lectured at St. Francis University, Albright College, La Salle University, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, and Temple University.
For further information, please visit www.howlingruth.com.
Kachina Martin is one of three artists exhibiting in our gallery whose work has been featured in the book, 500 Felt Objects.