TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Guest Artist: Rachel Koniar of Secret Snowbird

Detail, The Wedding

Fibers were not my first love. They were in the peripheral, embroidery on a backpack, sewing a Halloween costume, dabbling there and there. The focus of all my mentors and teachers had been painting, drawing, painting.


The Battle

The joy of fibers was a backhanded thing; outside of the classroom. It didn’t become a means of expression until I moved to the shores of Lake Superior.

Pea Pod Sculpture

I was studying art education in Duluth which at the time, had enacted a smoking ban. After many previous attempts to snub the habit, it was the combination of smoke free buildings and cold Duluth winters (-20ºF not uncommon) that did it. Cigaretteless and left with the need to fidget, I turned to my knitting needles in earnest. I began knitting a pair of socks between a drawing and a ceramics class.

Rag Rug

This became the first fiber sculpture. The sock was knit down from cuff to toe on a set of five double pointed needles. As the ribbed cuff slowly emerged I was absolutely enamored with its shape. The knit tube would stand on its own when set down: a perfect ribbed cone rising from size two wooden needles. The finished product as a sock was a disappointment. It was a more satisfying form before it had a heal and toe.

Pear Cone Sculptures

My knit sculptures have all since been a variation on the sock cuff form. While I have experimented with different shapes, I always felt it was important to create works in fibers. Mostly I want to add my voice to the craft vs. art debate. Why was it that color added with paint to cloth (canvas) was Art, but color added by thread to cloth was just a quilt? Shouldn’t more embroidery be in art museums? My sculptures are to be a reminder that fibers in one’s home are Art too: the hand stitched sampler, the knit scarf, the hardanger lace, or the hand pieced quilt.

For me, the medium is never far from the message. A sculpture made from a worn out, hand made, rag rug stands as a testament to the beauty of home. To paint with stitches and not a brush is to honor the creative tradition in my maternal line. A soft felted form, is tactile and inviting not unlike a warm blanket.

Sunny Cone Sculptures

While I still paint, knitting is a daily companion. Fibers easily create the most satisfying tactile textures and forms. Who can resist the rhythmic, soothing click of knitting needles? Skeins of wool and wooden needles find their way into every room. Unfinished knit sculptures peak out from baskets and coffee tables, completed felted ones sit atop bookshelves huddled in groups, peering over the ledge. When my work surrounds me- I am home.

Wee Pods

Rachel Koniar is an artist and educator living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2005 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Art Education. Her work has been shown at The Tweed Museum of Art, Nutty Meg’s, Altered Esthetics, and The Beat. While she has taught students ages kindergarten through twelfth through out Minnesota, she is currently teaching 8th graders in Wayzata and a Textiles & Fibers class at Watershed High School in Minneapolis. She has also taught summer classes through the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

You can find Rachel's work and contact her both at her store on Etsy, Secret Snowbird or on her website, Rachel Koniar. She also has PDF patterns for some of her cone sculptures available in her Etsy store.

The Flood


1 comment:

  1. hmmmm.. all this creativeness... must have something to do with people named Rachel ??????

    the other, other one


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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