Pat Kroth – Verona, Wisconsin, USA
The process of gathering, making, handling and manipulation of the materials is an important element of my work. This has led to the creation of a series of contemporary fiber art works, which include tiny fiber fragments, found objects and sheer overlays. Sometimes the surface vibrates with the allure of colorful candy wrappers, toys, buttons, feathers, and fortune cookie fortunes. Fibers, threads, and objects have been found, discovered, donated and otherwise acquired and incorporated into the work.
These abstract fiber art works utilize color, texture and movement to explore a variety of themes. Sometimes the works incorporate recognizable shapes and symbols. Working spontaneously, I create entire surfaces of color using fiber, and textural elements. Each work is then energetically machine stitched. I truly feel that I am “painting” with fabric and thread.
The “blurred,” soft, tactile qualities of fiber, fabric and thread sometimes become the vehicle for a more dramatic statement. These artworks show the playful juxtaposition of candy wrappers or hard metallic objects such as jewelry, paperclips, coins and hardware against the softer more luxurious nature of velvet, cotton and silk, satin and lace. I collect and incorporate elements with interesting texture, color, or personal significance. Often, I think of my work as a depository for the flotsam and jetsam of life. Combining unusual materials, and utilizing both machine and hand techniques, helps to enhance the work. I enjoy the multiplicity and ambiguity of meanings in my work, which invite the viewer to look further than just the riotous surface of things.
Music, and or personal experiences often provide the inspiration for my work… Cool jazz on a stormy winter night or perhaps a run or bicycle ride on a hot windy day. Family, friends, a good book, a vivid lightning storm- any of these, all of these can become the catalyst for a new series of explorations.
(Click images to enlarge)SAQA: When did you begin making art with fabric? Do you work in other media as well?
KROTH: I started as a painting major at DePaul University, panicked and thought I needed a “real” job, so I transferred to the PE Dept and got my teaching degree. I had been competing and coaching gymnastics – so it seemed like a natural fit. I stared teaching after college, then returned to U of I to finish my painting degree. I created large abstract paintings, did some print making and started exhibiting locally. A fellow gymnast asked me to coach at his gym where I coached for the next 15 years.
I drifted into fiber after a friend invited me to take a quilting class about 25 years ago. I learned to hand- piece and stitch. I had to learn how to use a sewing machine – and sewed all of my early prices on a treadle or 1940s machine. I took workshops locally to learn dyeing and surface design techniques. I loved the tactile quality of fiber and the texture of the added stitched line. I love working with color and texture, so my work has evolved into incorporating found elements and non-traditional materials.I enjoy working large, so installation work has become more intriguing to me. In 2014 my area was hit by a tornado. While my neighbors cut and burned debris, I collected branches and wind blown objects in my shed. In winter of 2015 I created a 12′ installation called “Nest” at the Anderson Art Center in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Recorded audio stories from my neighbors telling their tornado tales accompanied the art installation in the gallery. I am interested in pursuing the challenge of creating more “fibrous” on-site installation work in the future.
SAQA: What inspires you?
KROTH: See statement, also: I am inspired by my cumulative life experience(?!) The places I go, things I see, people I encounter. I taught gymnastics for 20+ years, and still lead an active life. I think my work reflects some of that kinetic energy. I am a parent of 4 kids and 2 grandkids- the enthusiasm and boundless curiosity of children has seeped into my heart.
SAQA: Have any artists or art movements influenced your work?KROTH: My influences are varied including masters: Matisse, Cezanne, Monet; 1950’s color field and abstract expressionist painters. Street art, naive and children’s art. Dance, music, from classical, blues, rock to hip- hop.
SAQA: What techniques and materials do you use?
KROTH: I incorporate hand-dyed and commercial fabrics. The fragments series consist of tiny torn or hand cut fabrics, and a myriad of found objects. I like to include non-traditional materials which may include: candy wrappers, ticket stubs, junk jewelry, toys and more. Layers of netting, tulle and over sheer fabrics comprise another series of abstract works.
I heat-bond or fuse larger works. I work fairly spontaneously, sometimes working from a quick sketch or doodle. I am inspired by nature so some works spring from photos I take. All my work is energetically machine stitched with colorful variegated threads of different weights.
SAQA: Where do you create?
KROTH: The majority of my work is constructed in my home studio. I have a dedicated room with my stash of materials where I compose and sew with music in the background. I dye and print most of my fabric outdoors, other rooms in my house have trails of thread and bits of fabric. Much of my contemplative time is spent behind the wheel driving, or out on my bike or trail.
SAQA: How do you reconcile the art-making and business sides of your creative life?KROTH: This is a big challenge. I work out. Then I go to the studio first. Work for several hours, Take a break and check email, deal with correspondence, I work in the studio after lunch. Check mail and followup on entries, show status, art fair entries, other business. I will sometimes do a little more work after dinner, prep work for the next day, make a list for upcoming day.
As a traveling art fair artist, I’m on the road a lot, so I try to make good transitions, maximize my time. As SAQA co-rep and exhibit co-curator for the last several years I’ve had to be conscious of my plans and be flexible.
Keeping up with social media, website and PR is an ongoing challenge.
SAQA: What are you working on now? What’s next?
KROTH: I am deeply involved in my new body of work using improvisational composition. I am trying to work most directly from conception to completion intuitively.
I plan to create a solo exhibit with this new playful energetic work. I am also actively pursuing some on-site installation work using re-purposed and recycled materials. Aka: making Art!
Listen to Pat Kroth speak about the Nest project on Wisconsin Public Radio.
View more of Pat Kroth’s work on her website
View more of Pat Kroth’s work on her SAQA Juried Artist Member profile
Connect with Pat Kroth on Facebook