The Art of Kimberley Hart
"Knitting is a lot like
welding," says Kimberley Hart. "Many
of the motions are the same. You make something
flat, you cut it, you bend it."
Kimberley was trained in art
school as a "regular old super-sculptor:
welding, plaster..." But she got tired
of being dirty with the boys in the foundry.
She knew how to sew -- a gift from her mother,
a professional sail-maker -- and she started
to do needlework. "My grad advisor wasn't
very gung ho."
Nearly ten years later, Kimberley
is deep into making art with craft materials
and techniques, including crochet, latch hook,
and knitting. Most of her work deals with issues
of tomboyism, and her effort to portray the
complexities of real girls. "You can't
put a nail in the wall and hang my art up."
From a crocheted, pastel, sequined hunting blind
to a life-sized latch-hook pony, her work is
big and almost completely hand made (except
for a few parts knitted on her Barbie knitting
Kimberley works from her own
paper patterns, covered in scrawled notes to
help her avoid getting lost in the midst of
a big piece. "With the pony, I spent three
days sitting on the floor just trying to figure
out how to make a shoulder. How do you make
a head? A nose?" Figuring out these mysteries
-- and turning 2D objects into 3D -- is what
Kimberley loves to do. "I enjoy the process
of figuring things out. I like the surprises,
the openness and flexibility."
Like many artists who work
with yarn and fabric, she finds people are comfortable
with her work and can approach it in a way they
might not approach a painting. "It doesn't
say 'I'm an important piece of artwork'. It's
inviting. I don't know if it's the slight domestic
aspect or what." Girls want to hug the
pony. People want to climb the ladder to the
Kimberley has made her art
throughout the latest surge in knitting's popularity.
She's happy that it's "in the culture,
something that people are into. And its becoming
mainstream does push me to keep my work different."
Kimberley's upcoming work
takes on yet another craft method. "I'm
going to make some suspendable macramé
chandelier-ey fishtraps," she promises.
"I have all these strategies to seduce
The Art of
"I hate knitting,"
claims Jenny Humphreys. This from a woman who
recently knitted a 6-foot by 22-foot acrylic,
misshapen U.S. flag. "I have a weird relationship
with knitting and sewing. They're something
to be gotten through to get to a concept."
But once she starts talking
more, the artist belies a love for the messages
needlework can convey, and perhaps even for
the work itself. She plans each piece, then
executes it, losing herself in the repetition.
"It's a different kind of work for me,
with a goal at the end. I know when a piece
is finished, unlike when I'm painting. With
a painting I'm always looking, looking."
Trained as a painter, Jenny
started doing needlework in an attempt to get
to simpler roots. "Sewing reminded me of
all the arts I learned as a child that -- in
art school -- were not as valued. I still paint.
But I also do knitted pieces, needlework, quilting."
The artist adds text to wedding dresses and
quilts to bring out often painful, and sometimes
controversial, messages. And she's not limited
to fabric. "I did a piece about my ancestors:
an installation of gingerbread tombstones. I've
also done pieces with cake."
Once a knitted or sewn piece
is made it becomes a part of the artist's life
in a way that no painting ever has. One example
is Hood, a knitted full-body piece with two
eyeholes. "I was interested in the idea
of restricted movement and comfort at the same
time. I thought I'd do a video wearing it. I've
used it for performances." The artist wore
the hood while laying in a hand-made cradle
filled with saltwater taffy. Visitors to the
performance were invited to sit and rock her
-- and eat the candy. "These handmade pieces
cycle through and become part of my life."
Jenny's wedding dress series
brought her treasures from friends. "I
like the materials to come to me, to already
have a history. I like that they were out there
in the world before I used them." Now she's
working on a piece made with a special flag
given to her family at her father's -- a WWII
veteran's -- funeral. Oh, and "a flag about
Rapunzel and Barbie."
Jenny's mom was an artist
who stopped painting when her children were
born. "My kind of work may horrify her.
But to my generation, and those younger than
me, it means a totally different thing. It's
a shared tradition women have."