Friday, May 18, 2012

Featured Artist: Kachina Martin

From April 14th, to June 2nd, we present "Refuse/Re-seen" during which we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog.  Today, we're pleased to introduce to you:  Kachina Martin

      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.  

34x21x1"       2012
     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.

Orthogenesis (detail)
34x21x1"       2012

      While all of my work fiber-based, not all of my pieces are intended to be worn.  I am drawn to old garments that show evidence of the hand that created the piece as well as the person who wore it.  These indelible marks—stitches, stains, mended holes, and spots rubbed almost bare by continual contact with the body—speak to the hours invested in the making of the garment as well as the years that have passed as it was worn, again and again.  I am interested in ways in which to transcend both the utilitarian nature and the inevitable entropy that continually affect these garments and reimagine them as enduring, sculptural artifacts.  In so doing, I aim to defy the viewer’s expectation of what fiber is, can, or should be.  In my most recent work, I have been working with both narrative and context, exploring how garments can be altered to reflect as well as defy societal norms and expectations, particularly of women.

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