Katherine Maxwell Interview: Weaving is meditative
Santa Fe based fiber artist Katherine Maxwell creates sustainable fashion, knits and textiles. She combines fibers and colours to create patterns in her unique hand-loom knits.
In this interview Katherine tells us how being raised in a commune of artists encouraged her love of weave, wool and knitting. She also gives us an insight into how she manages to stay one-step-ahead of the fashion world.
Combining fibers and colours
TextileArtist.org: What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work ?
Katherine Maxwell: I was raised partly in a commune of artists who were all exploring different mediums. Back then almost all the women crocheted their own clothing, some were also weaving.
In my teens I met Chloe Sachs who was utilising knitting machines to create her own high end fashion line and sold in stores like Bergdof Goodmans and Neimans in NYC. I began to apprentice with her and by my early twenties had constructed an entire line of hand loomed knits.
Soon after I began to style her catalogues and became a photo stylist. Pursuing this direction I moved to Europe where I freelanced and worked with great designers such as Versaci, Armani, Romeo Gigli and Costume National. Working directly in their showrooms on fashion shoots I had my hands on some of the finest couture in the world. I slowly returned to loom knitting my own mens’ line and was then off and running again creating my own textiles!
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques ?
Today I still use the techniques that Chloe showed me by modifying bulky knitters and finger weaving into the knits, combining fibers and colours to create the pattern itself.
Contemporary and fresh
How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
I think my work as a stylist kept me two beats ahead of the fashion world. Styling musicians for rock magazines meant I always had to be contemporary and fresh. Now in my design for home and lifestyle I carry that ‘leadership in trending’ role with me. The constructions for the body are always refining and leaning toward a lifestyle that keeps an edge on fashion.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
First there is the hunting and gathering of materials and fibers. I always use what is collected first then I pump up the volume on my music, start dancing and getting ‘amped up’ about the vision. The actual weaving is dynamic and much more like playing a synthesizer than sitting in a chair… it’s fun!
‘This belongs in a gallery!’
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
All creative projects inspire me. So many people are getting out there and now with technology and websites like TextileArtist.org, we can share so much with each other. Nature, light and music always inspire.
Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
When I was homesick for a New England fall I would make a piece with fall colours. This one was made like that and hung on my wall in Italy. A professor from Brera Institute in Milan once saw it and said “I know little of fashion but this belongs in a gallery!”
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
My work is constantly evolving and refining. My recent turn to multi media paintings is a new exploration and frontier, I think it is becoming clearer and larger with more and more layering of story and at the same time lighter, fresher and cleaner.
Workshop and intern opportunities
What advice would you give to an aspiring textile artist?
Construct, deconstruct, construct and repeat.
Can you recommend 3 or 4 books for textile artists?‘Textiles Now’ by Drusilla Cole ‘Textiles: The art of mankind’ by Mary Schoeser
My work is featured in both.
What piece of equipment or tool could you not live without?
My latch tool!
Do you give talks or run workshops or classes? If so where can readers find information about these?
How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
For more information please visit: www.katherinemaxwell.com
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