Tools & Talismans #68 — Kathryn Clark

I find Kathyrn's work both fascinating and comforting. She explores political issues, human rights issues, and the status of refugees, but instead of photos or paintings created on canvas or board, she uses the medium of fabric and quilting to convey her ideas. Many of her stories are dark, some disturbing, and all of them have an important place in our cultural narrative — does the rendering of her work on fabric make it easier to take in the subject matter? I don't know. But her work is intriguing and troubling and beautiful, and I just find that the most interesting piece.

My Omnigrip, rotary cutter and 4’x8’ cutting board (background) are indispensable everyday tools for me. They provide a link to my previous life as an architect and urban designer where measured lines were the standard. Integrating the architectural process into my work is what makes it my own. I can always spot a former architect in their artwork.

My favorite sketching tools are also architectural: small trace paper and my favorite Unionmade #2 pencil. The pencil has just the right feel and I’m very particular about my pencils. I started with 12 of these and am now down to 3. When I discover lost ones around my house I’m over the moon.

The rest of my tools are for hand sewing. My small black scissors have cut out every one of my foreclosed lots in my Foreclosure Quilts series, they’ve seen it all.  My pen cushion and thimble came from Japan and every time I reach for these tools, I reminisce about my visits there. I made a series of indigo ceramic trays for a series I made that never panned out, but they make great pin holders! The tray reminds me that even though we have a lot of false starts, a failed idea always informs and influences our later work.

Kathryn Clark, Conceptual Fiber Artist


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I document {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me for a year of Tools & Talismans — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

I'd love to talk about creating illustrations for you! Do you have a project that needs some illustration? Think my work might be a good fit? Get in touch, I'd love to talk about your project with you!