Needle-felted natural wool, wire, wool threads, garden sticks



All art is about the body in some way. Whether it is perceived as peaceful, exciting, calming, frightening, shocking, funny, or depressing, the reactions and sensations take place in the body, according to the viewer’s own experience.  The sense of touch develops early on, and plays an important role in mental health for every age.  I started early in life to appreciate the tactility of textiles and threads: my mother sewed, spun, dyed, wove, and knit with a variety of different fibers, and I tried them all. I have kept a few bits of precious textured things that she gave me when I was small.

I’m intrigued by the nature of things – the gesture of the curve of a branch, the dip of a wand of flowers, of a field of grass carved by the wind, of the coldness of a hand held over the snow. I grew up on a tidal estuary, and have a deep connection to water and wind. Ever since I was a teenager, I have sought solace in the natural world and brought its color and energy into my work. The last decade has been characterized by transition and instability, both in the world and in my smaller community, and water and wind have provided grounding and centering. My current pieces capture those gestures and evoke a summer pond below a mountain, with capricious breezes coming from all directions to touch the skin and disappear.

The translucency of wax changes the transmission of light, making what’s underneath more visible and less accessible. Repetition and layering of fabrics and threads mean many things are happening at any one time, and these can be experienced either encapsulated in a moment or as a longer sequence or phrase. As a singer, gesture and phrase are important in my work, and as a musician and poet, there is music in the motion of the water and the wind, and poetry in the abstraction of these gestures. I want my work to be poetry.

I am inspired by the work of Janet Lipkin, Janet Lasher, Kiki Smith, Dorothy Caldwell, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and Louise Bourgeois, all artist for whom the work of the hand informs the work of the mind.


Kate Dean, September, 2015