Kate Keara Pelen



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.