KATHLEEN WEIR-WEST

ARTIST, DESIGNER & WEAVER

BIOGRAPHY

Kathleen has loved handcrafts since she was a little girl.  She remembers spending wonderful hours with her mother, creating elaborate paper dolls.  Kathleen credits her mother with fostering her creativity and imagination through her encouraging and patient presentation of “beautiful things to do”.  Kathleen's mother took her on real world adventures, including magical trips to Marshall Fields at Christmas where she was able to pick out one or two special items for her elaborate hand decorated dollhouse, and unforgettable trips to see wide ranging dance performances... you can still hear the child's wonder in her voice when she remembers seeing the Alvin Ailey dance company, and she says the memory still gives her shivers!

From a journey to NEPAL.

During her college years, Kathleen availed herself of art course offerings where she discovered a deep appreciation for Pre-Columbian art.  Time spent at the Field Museum of Natural History expanded to feed her deep interest in Native Pacific Indian art, and her “desire to get out and see the world”.  After graduating from Loyola University with a degree in psychology, Kathleen serendipitously found herself with a job as a travel agent, which turned out to be her passageway to an even broader cultural world.  During this period she took advantage of the opportunity to see places that were steeped in native culture, places she thought would be radically transformed by advancing technology in the coming decades.  Kathleen journeyed to many places including Bhutan, India and Nepal, and carried away an “accept and embrace” attitude towards life's offerings.

Kathleen's art education was furthered by a series of summer sessions at Elliot Lake Centre for the Arts in Ontario, Canada.  Having developed an affinity for the colors and textures of fine fibers (thanks to a wondrous Irish yarn store she stumbled upon during college), she found herself pursuing weaving under the tutelage of Martha Wickam, Guerite Steinbacher and Sylvia Hayden.  Kathleen was quickly immersed in the world of fiber, soaking up the techniques and patience the medium requires from Martha, the artistic concerns and visual challenges of tapestry work from Sylvia, and the virtues of color from Guerite.  It was during this time period that Kathleen's rich use of color developed, and she found her artistic voice in the shifting colors of variegated yarns, and her sensitivity to the way colors interact with each other.  In her early thirties, Kathleen married and returned to school, taking a graduate course in counseling and guidance.  She was asked to write a paper for the class finaldetailing the students idea of The Perfect Day, which it turned out had nothing to do with psychology, and everything to do with a life in the arts.  The professor's single boldly penned comment at the top of the title page was “GO AND DO!”   Being a very good student, Kathleen embraced the professors advice, switched schools, and began classes in weaving, dyeing and embellishment.

TECHNIQUE

“My loom is similar to that of the pioneers.” says Kathleen who prefers a four harness loom (no motor driven parts) that offers her the immediacy of a simpler set-up, and allows her to “Get on and get my colors going!” Kathleen's patterns are classics.  The BROKEN TWILL, PLAIN WEAVE and ROSE PATH among others, become endlessly versatile as she blends a hand full of bright fibers with the occasional muted tone that allows the rich hues to sing.  The result is Kathleen's unique fabrics which delight the eye with their color variations, and rich textures that invite you to reach out and touch.

MATERIALS

“Weaving is playtime for me!” says Kathleen.  She greatly enjoys developing patterning in her weaves.  Her use of rich novelty yarns gives her fabrics a distinctive look.  She typically weaves yardage with 5 to 7 yarns, using 2 yarns per bobbin and shuttle, and combining natural fibers and blends.  Often she throws in a yarn with a bit of sheen, in mixes such as rayon and cotton, or silk and bamboo – creating tantalizing bits of radiant color in her woven fabrics.  Her colors are enhanced by their complexity, which even in her black and white patterns, will feature the use of three different shades of white yarn and four different shades of black yarn.  By using yarns that are all slightly different, Kathleen creates endlessly fluid palettes and she delights in looking for and creating “...the blend that sets itself apart.”

EXHIBITIONS

Kathleen's award winning apparel has been shown at fine juried art and crafts shows for thirty years.  She has been an annual exhibitor at numerous prestigious events, including:

AMERICAN CRAFTS COUNCIL Shows: Atlanta, GA Baltimore, MA and Charlotte, NC

BIRMINGHAM FINE ART FESTIVAL: Birmingham, MI

BROOKSIDE ART ANNUAL: Brookside, MO

FESTIVAL OF FINE CRAFT: Highland Park, IL

ONE-OF-A-KIND MERCHANDISE MART: Chicago, IL

ST.JAMES COURT ARTS FESTIVAL: Louisville, KY

THE ORIGINAL STREET FAIR: Ann Arbor, MI

Business Suits, Handwoven, Kathleen Weir-West-002

GALLERIES and PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Don't miss the opportunity to see and touch Kathleen's fine hand woven clothing!  Be among the first to view her newest fabrics, colors and designs.  Kathleen's work is currently or intermittently on display with these notable art galleries and guilds (click on highlighted words for information on the organizations).

PIEDMONT CRAFTSMEN   Winston-Salem, NC

SOUTHERN HIGHLAND CRAFT GUILD   Asheville, NC

CLICK HERE TO SEE KATHLEEN'S SOUTHERN HIGHLAND CRAFT GUILD PAGE

CLICK HERE to start viewing Kathleen's creations!