I grew up on Puget Sound in a pretty little town called Steilacoom. Home was only a short walk from the beach where I watched the tide roll in and out, turned over rocks to surprise scurrying shore crabs, and dug in the rocky beach for tiny shells to collect and draw.
I moved to Alaska in 1981 to take a job as an art director—wow, how time flies! From that day to this the immense beauty and bounty of Alaska has filled me with that same childlike wonder.
Today, as a visual artist, I use thread to create shapes and tell stories. My current work is about our human connection to the natural world; how all earthly things are linked by the smallest of threads, and how we humans can, willfully or unwittingly, alter those often-imperceptible connections.
I use two techniques to create my artwork—hand-stitching with thread and beads, and machine-stitching thread onto a water-soluble fiber base.
Hand-stitching a few tiny beads at a time shows me precisely where I’m headed while I slowly develop a piece. Sometimes that methodical pace is exactly what I want to experience. At other times, I want to surprise myself. Then, I use my sewing machine to embroider on water-soluble stabilizer. This approach requires an unsettling leap of faith because at the end of the project the foundation will be washed away and only the connected threads remain. I’m never sure if the final result will be the artwork I had imagined or an unrecognizable jumble. It is a wonderful risk though because a successful piece is a perfect metaphor for what I want to say: one thread is indeed fragile but many threads, holding together, make the world.
More about me Kristen Swann of 49 Writers wrote this wonderful profile for the Rasmuson Foundation.