Getting earthy with Art Cloth
By RHONDA MIX
Published:, 08/06/2012 | 726 words
Published:, 08/06/2012 | 726 words
Walking into Barbara Schneider’s studio in Harvard’s historic Starline building, one can immediately sense the earthy aura surrounding the space, especially with Schneider’s newest projects, focusing on leaves and nature, lying scattered around.
Schneider, a soft-spoken yet spunky artist, recently moved into the Starline building about one month ago, after working out of her home for many years. A longtime McHenry County resident, she’s lived in Woodstock for the last seven years.
She received a Masters degree in graphic design from Northern Illinois University and began taking an interest in Art Quilting around 1998. For the last five years, she’s worked full-time as a professional artist and has focused her attention on working with Art Cloth, which is “cloth transformed by adding or subtracting color, line, shape, texture, value or fiber to create a compelling surface.”
Schneider uses pieces of fabric and quilted displays decorated with dyed, colorful designs. She said the core of her artwork comes from the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi – finding beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. She uses reflection as her theme.
Nature is her muse. Leaves, water, plaster, papered walls, architectural fragments and graffiti all motivate her work as she interprets her visions into a piece of art cloth. Her newest project focuses on using real leaves (some chewed by Asian beetles) as inspiration to create whimsical fabric wall hangings, displays, and even art cloth garments – such as her fascinating “leaf-kicking boots.”
“[My inspiration] mostly comes from going outside and looking around. I collect a lot of leaves and pods and stuff, [I like to] work with natural imagery,” she said.
For many of her projects, Schneider creates the unusual designs in a Photoshop type program and then digitally prints them onto the fabric.
“I like the challenge of taking something from nature and reality and interpreting it into something abstract – to make it into a piece of art fabric. I’m looking for beauty in a different way.”
How does she feel about her new studio in the Starline building?
“I had studio lust every time I came out [here],” she said, laughing.
“The space became available – it all happened so quickly. It’s perfect. It’s a great idea to be able to reuse space and concentrate on artists, really [making it] an artist destination.
“So often people have to go into the city, so, for us to be able to develop art here and make it such a community space, there is such potential.”
Schneider has exhibits on display all around the country, including several pieces in Houston and a water piece on loan at the U.S. Embassy in Laos.
“It’s cool that my work is being seen on the other side of the world – I have a dozen pieces traveling right now.”
She said she looks forward to taking part in the Starline Gallery’s Fourth Fridays events, which occur from 6 to 9 p.m. the last Friday of every month and showcase established and emerging artists. Starting with her leaf project as her first showcase, she plans on creating a different theme to display every month.
Schneider said she also looks forward to being surrounded by other artists instead of working in seclusion and wants to get some “synergy” going. She hopes to begin teaching workshops in the fall.
“I think there’s a desire out here … it will be a lot of fun. When you introduce people who have never done something like this to the concept, they just light up,” she said.
“Lots of people don’t realize how creative they really are. [You] don’t have to be a trained artist to enjoy and come up with wonderful ideas.”
To learn more about Art Cloth, visit barbaraschneider-artist.com.