Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Handed On/Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen

I've visited the Harry Wood Gallery on the ASU Tempe campus several times this week - I can't get enough of Handed On, Kelsey Wiskirchen's MFA exhibit.  Seriously, this is one of the most amazing fiber art shows I've seen! 

Many of us had our beginning textile lessons from great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, .... it's a field dominated by women and passed on to younger granddaughters, daughters, nieces, ....  This is something I've been thinking about for some time, so it was amazing to see such a strong exhibit from someone thinking along the same lines.

Kelsey spent time with women's weaving groups in several different cultures - Bolivia, South Africa, and Arizona - and was struck by the similarities.  Women working together as a community, sharing stories, and passing on skills and traditions to the younger women and girls.  Working from her photographs, she drew life sized women at work and used free-motion machine embroidery on cheesecloth to bring these women to life.

The free hanging cheesecloth works wonderfully in several ways.  It moves as people walk in between the rows, giving animation to the representations of women involved in their work.  And the thin, fragility of the cloth represents her vision of the women's stories as delicate and fragile, subject to fading from our memories.

The stories are told along the walls - embroidered onto thin fabric she hand wove.  I'm not big on reading a lot in art galleries, however I read each one.  There are stories of how fiber techniques were learned from older women, of the life lessons passed down, of the family histories passed on.

Kelsey's present in the gallery during most of the time it's open, weaving a thin cloth on which she'll embroider the new stories she gathers.  A very inviting table with pens and paper invites all visitors to add their own stories.

Handed On will be on display through Friday, April 20.  Hours for the Harry Wood Gallery are 9 - 5 Monday through Thursday and 9 - 3 on Fridays.  The Gallery is located in the Art Building on the Tempe Campus of Arizona State University - a map and parking information can be found here.  See more of Kelsey's work on her website.

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Oh my goodness - what a beautiful exhibition!! Thanks for introducing me to this artist's work :)

  2. How do you do it girl? Yet another something I've never seen.....floating threads. How awesome, inspiring & beautiful! Love the "thread sketching" as I call it. enJOYed very much.

  3. I have no words--it's gorgeous art and so evocative! Thank you so much for this post (via CraftGossip) How I wish I lived closer!

  4. this is now a work. this is contemporary art. gorgeous.