Art

A fiber painter's artful abandon

Warm and lush works by Faith Welsh featured in solo show

By Virginia L. Clark
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/4/19

Creativity craves change, movement, unknowns, surprise, wonder - all elements fiber artist Faith Welsh can't get enough of."I'm obsessed," she said during a November studio visit.

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Art

A fiber painter's artful abandon

Warm and lush works by Faith Welsh featured in solo show

Posted

Creativity craves change, movement, unknowns, surprise, wonder - all elements fiber artist Faith Welsh can't get enough of.

"I'm obsessed," she said during a November studio visit. "I can't wait to get out of bed to do this!"

"Landscapes of Imagination" is Welsh's new show that opens with a reception Saturday (Dec. 7) from 3 to 5 p.m. at Vortexyarns, 218-A Paseo del Pueblo Norte, just before the nearby Lighting of Ledoux holiday-themed event. She's excited because it's the biggest fiber show she's ever done and her first solo show. It's all new work and centers around a piece titled "Story Coat."

According to an email statement, the exhibition includes "non-functional mixed media fiber art work, one-of-a-kind wearable art garments, and small, abstract woven tapestry landscapes exclusively using [her] hand-spun art yarns," art yarns that include luxe fibers, colorful art batts and rolags (little fiber burritos) for hand-spinning, all produced in Welsh's studio.

The exhibit will run through Valentine's Day and Welsh will offer January and February drop-in sessions on spinning art yarn with drop spindles - dates and times to be announced.

"The featured piece, 'Story Coat,' begun in 2012, is a piece of personal evolution," she writes. "It is the seminal work that led me to translating fiber into landscape format. My aim in creating the piece and this exhibition is to experiment with abandon in taking fiber into the next level. The work includes techniques such as intarsia, short rows and random lace to create undulating effects, and curvilinear shapes. It is quite like painting with fiber, with emphasis on color, texture and shape."

A fiber artist who creates wearable art, Welsh started her adventures in creativity exploring acrylic and collage painting, which over the decades morphed into found-object and fiber "paintings" - her canvases ultimately include fiber shawls, scarves, deliciously warm fingerless gloves, coats, jewelry and more. If it can be beaded or knitted or crocheted, Welsh does it, blending silk, hemp, cotton, linen, beads, lace, ribbons, alpaca and merino wool, as well as gorgeous angora sheep and rabbit fiber.

Back in the day, once she was introduced to drop-spindle spinning, she says she took to it right away. "I felt like it connected me with guardians and ancestors who went before me. I felt it within me."

Her fascination with putting landscapes into garments is accomplished with fibers' textures and colors. She feathers and fans pieces, her techniques softly moving and curving like the earth.

"Intarsia is a knitting technique that allows you to knit blocks of color together and frees you up to create shapes and short rows instead of just going back and forth. Straight knitting is boring," she says, pointing out the short, mixed and undulating rows she creates, particularly noticeable in her asymmetric ponchos.

Her studio is packed floor to ceiling with fiber batts, yarns, paintings and signature artwear, showcasing her freeform knit and crochet techniques fired with colors and fibers, interwoven with the art yarns she hand-dyes and spins on a drop spindle.

"Anything that can be done on a spinning wheel can be done on a drop spindle once you get proficient at it," she says. She teaches drop-spindle techniques at fiber gatherings once or twice a year, most recently in Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada. The visit was particularly meaningful given that she lived nearly three decades in British Columbia, on Canada's west coast, where she raised her family, before moving to Taos.

She showed me a batt of angora rabbit fur that a Nova Scotian woman gifted her. It is so soft and airy it sticks to practically everything it touches. So she wears gloves to work with it, to keep it where she wants it and not where it magnetically wants to go.

"I do work in and live in my imagination a lot," she said of her passion for fiber art. The landscape of Taos stokes that passion.

"Taos just wows me. I look out my window every day, and it just wows me. You don't have to look far for inspiration, it's all around you."

"Landscapes of Imagination" is part of Vortexyarns contemporary fiber art exhibits and will hang through mid-February. Vortexyarns has yarns for everyone, owner Merce Mitchell says on the website, regarding the fiber studio's showroom, "from very reasonably priced acrylics to locally hand-dyed and hand-spun fiber." Classes, a calendar of events and more information are available at vortexyarns.com. Email is merce@vortexyarns.com. For more information about the show, call Vortexyarns, (575) 758-1241.

Welsh's Snow Lion Studios is located at 1005 Witt Road in Taos and is enthusiastically open by appointment. Call (575) 737-0280. Also, visit vortexyarns.com.

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