Kate Keara Pelen is a woman working in a variety of ways. Installation, illustration, needlework, photography, and painting are just part of her portfolio. I first became acquainted with her needlework, which is what’s featured here.
I am someone who embroiders often, and enjoy looking at Kate’s approach to working with thread. It’s non representational, and she layers colors and textures, making her circular compositions extremely tactile. Through these pieces, I’m reminded me of an interview I read between artist Alex Ebstein and sophiajacob (a Baltimore-based gallery). Alex is an artist who uses yarn as a dominant material in work, and discusses her choice to use it out of its original context. She explains disillusionment towards tube paint, stating, “… I like that yarn, a more gentle material [compared with tube paint], can have a similar aggression, but retains this inevitable craft and “low” art context for people.”
Looking at Kate’s work, I think it’s an interesting way to examine these pieces. Even though they are in a circular composition (referencing the embroidery hoop), Kate doesn’t have a “traditional” approach to needlework, which is often done for surface decoration or sold as a craft kit. Still, based on how we interact with thread and yarn in the past, we view these works differently than a painting.
All images via her website.