Tapestry Topics Online
A Quarterly Review of Tapestry Art Today

page 6
Fall 2006, Vol 32 No 3

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Katherine Perkins: In Celebration of Wildness

by Lany Eila

– TT p.12-13

The images in Perkins' work include both intimate, stylized studies of plants found in the southwest, and the open spaces in which they grow.  The ten tapestries were all woven at a galloping pace in only 18 months, and yet each is detailed and expertly crafted. . . . Many of the tapestries are paired.  "California Gold" and "Nature's Paintbrush" feature framed, stylized poppies and paintbrush flowers.  "Autumn I" and "Autumn II" offer framed images of blowing leaves against blue and orange/red backgrounds, respectively.  Leaves are joined with pinecones and branches in "Forest Floor."  "Windy Ridge" carries forward both the framed style and the theme of blowing leaves.

below: Katherine Perkins, Nature's Paintbrush, 35" x 25"

. . . In an effort to use many of her approximately 50 shades of reds, pinks, browns and oranges, she framed the flowers in multicolored backgrounds echoing Rio Grande blankets.  These tapestries merge Perkins' historical use of the Rio Grande style of tapestry with her current use of French tapestry techniques. . . .

below: Katherine Perkins, Apache Plume, 27" x 35"

. . . Perkins states: "What better way to celebrate wildness than to join warp and colorful weft in a time-intensive sojourn through the joys of the natural world. As each of these tapestries was woven I could immerse myself in the memories of time and place that served as the inspiration for their creation." . . . The viewer, too, may enter into the natural beauty of these tapestries.

It is Only Natural

by Katherine Perkins

– TT p.13-14

As a lover of the wild it was only natural, so to speak, that I would eventually begin using dyes that originate in wild places.  It has been a delightful trip, but not without unforeseen consequences. . . . [O]ne day while wandering the woods I was looking at the chamisa, oak, and juniper and said, "Do it: start using natural dyes." As a resident of the extremely arid state of New Mexico, I deliberately decided for environmental reasons not to gather my own plants. Since I was going to purchase rather than collect, I figured I would start with my favorite color—red. . . .

below: Katherine Perkins, Autumn II, 31" x 35"

. . . [A]s I experimented, I realized getting a wide variety of values was more difficult with natural dyes than it is with synthetic dyes . . . I was like a kid in the candy store and could not seem to get enough of that cochineal or madder. . . .

. . . Though not an especially spiritual person I do find a connection to the natural world that touches my soul.  Frankly, geometric shapes do not express these feelings for me.  Thus I needed to stretch my pallet so I could create representational images, or better yet, abstracted representational images that would evoke the power of wildness. . . . Meanwhile, adding green to my natural dye pallet has made my heart soar almost as much as the reds did, especially since green is so essential to depicting things wild. . . .

below: Katherine Perkins, Aspen Vista, 37" x 21"

. . . Had I not started using natural dyes I would not have had these amazing colors that require me to reconsider how I use red in tapestry.  At the same time my excitement over the cochineal, madder and lac dyes have given me inspiration to move beyond my usual colors.  It has been a fascinating experience, and I am just itching to add new wild colors to my palette.

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