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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 machine).

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 hunting blind.

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 people."

The Art of Jenny Humphreys

"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."



Larissa Brown is an artist from Portland, Oregon, whose work mixes materials and themes of the corporate workplace with traditional craft techniques such as knitting and quilting. A highlight of her career was being interviewed on NPR's Studio 360 on the same day they featured The Office. Her work is profiled in the November/December 2004 Fiberarts magazine.

You can see more of her sculptures at and her knitting at her blog.