textiles

Fiber

Open Studio Spotlight: Katie Castillo

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There has been a lot of energy spent redefining “craft” for the 21st century, but in simple terms we might accept it is as the presence of art in everyday, functional objects. Furniture, vessels, and other household items that capture the spirit and quality of things made by hand when there was no other option. You made it because there was no mass-produced option available from a store down the road.

In the work of Katie Castillo, we find that individual handcrafted quality beneath our feet: “I have worked as a Speech Therapist for more than 14 years. I have no formal artistic training, but I have always loved playing with color. I was inspired into rug making by Emily Carr (1871-1945), while I was living in B.C., Canada. I chose rag rugs specifically because they originated in Appalachia, and I was missing my Kentucky roots.”  

“The process I use, called twining, is ancient and calming. I create my rugs on wooden looms which I built myself. My materials are old bed sheets and other fabric, which I tear into pieces and then re-assemble; no sewing required. I love to take a piece out into the community and work on it in public. When I am not in my Art Sanctuary studio, you’ll find me in Shelby Park or sitting down by the river with my friend Mr. Lincoln.” 

“Evil Eye” by Katie Castillo, 44x24in

“Evil Eye” by Katie Castillo, 44x24in

I have fun creating different color combinations and playing with themes, such as ‘Lobster in the Woods’, which is based on my time in the Northwest. ‘Evil Eye’ was inspired by my travels in Turkey. My rugs are available for purchase through 5-0-Lou and Craft(s) Gallery and Mercantile in Louisville, KY.“

All of Castillo’s rugs are 44x24in and typically weigh in at more than 5 pounds.

Katie Castillo is participating in the 2018 Open Studio Weekend, sponsored by Louisville Visual Art and University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute. His studio, located in the Germantown neighborhood, will be open the weekend of November 3 and 4. Tickets for Open Studio Weekend will go on sale October 16. Click here for more information. 

Hometown: Covington, Kentucky
Education: BS, Biology, University of Louisville, 2002; MS, Communication Disorders, University of Louisville, 2004. 
Website: https://sagerugs.com

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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Fiber

Vignette: Joanne Weis

“…respect for and celebration of the world we were given is the story I want to record.” – Joanne Weis

"The Banks of Pope Lick" by Joanne Weis, Textile - Hemp, Hand Dyed, printed, appliqued and stitched, 32x18in, 2018, $350

"The Banks of Pope Lick" by Joanne Weis, Textile - Hemp, Hand Dyed, printed, appliqued and stitched, 32x18in, 2018, $350

Arguably, all art is storytelling. Even the most singular or abstract image is at least an element of a larger narrative. Joanne Weis is a textile artist working with non-representational components to create broad, elemental compositions that represent something. In the examples we see here, Weis is looking at rivers and streams but, even more importantly, the life of those waterways. Mussels juxtaposed with barges, clover growing on the riverbanks, and fish swimming alongside – even the intricate web of color at the bottom of “The Banks of Pope Lick” are suggestive of the network of organisms found within any organic body of water. The textures of fabric, whether natural or imposed by technique, speak the story of the worlds beneath the water’s surface, away from our hearing.

“My recent work demonstrates my awareness of the links between the earth’s environment and the spiritual.”  

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“I start with white fabric and cord,” Weis explains her process. “Then develop the piece using a variety of dyeing and printing techniques. The final layer is typically stitched with dyed cords, adding detail and texture. I get excited about every phase of the creative process – choosing and researching the subject matter, selecting the fiber, experimenting with techniques to achieve the look I want, handling, even smelling the silk, linen, hemp or other fabric, discovering new colors with dye, making composition and design decisions as the work grows, stitching into the cloth, touching the embroidered textures of the finished piece – all of these are thrilling and fulfilling. Most rewarding is when this art graces someone’s wall.”

“With this in mind, respect for and celebration of the world we were given is the story I want to record.”

Weis currently has a piece in the Fall of the Leaf Autumn Art Show at Kaviar Forge & Gallery in Louisville through October 13, 2018

On September 29, Weis will be part of the Louisville Visual Art’s Juried Exhibit in the 2018 Portland Art & Heritage Fair. The exhibit will be available for viewing at the Marine Hospital from 11am-5pm. Jury prizes will be awarded at 2:00pm.

Hometown: Cranston, Rhode Island
Education: BA English and Education, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI; MA, Fine Arts, focus on fiber; University of Louisville, KY, 2010; MSW, Washington University St. Louis, MO; Art Cloth Mastery Program, with Jane Dunnewold, 2009, ArtCloth Studio, San Antonio, TX.
Website: joanneweis.com

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"Mussels Under and Barges Over the Ohio" by Joanne Weis, Textile - Hemp, Hand Dyed, printed, appliqued and stitched, 20x43in, 2018, $400

"Mussels Under and Barges Over the Ohio" by Joanne Weis, Textile - Hemp, Hand Dyed, printed, appliqued and stitched, 20x43in, 2018, $400

"Clover by the Salt River" by Joanne Weis, Textile - Hemp, Hand Dyed, printed, appliqued and stitched, 40x22in, 2018, $400

"Clover by the Salt River" by Joanne Weis, Textile - Hemp, Hand Dyed, printed, appliqued and stitched, 40x22in, 2018, $400

"Water Dance, Floyds' Fork" by Joanne Weis, Cotton, hand dyed, printed, stitched, 26.5x46in, 2018, $400

"Water Dance, Floyds' Fork" by Joanne Weis, Cotton, hand dyed, printed, stitched, 26.5x46in, 2018, $400


Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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Fiber, Ceramics

Feature: Elmer Lucille Allen


"I love the academic environment. I am a perpetual student." — Elmer Lucille Allen


Artist Elmer Lucille Allen ( Photo by Tom LeGoff)

Artist Elmer Lucille Allen (Photo by Tom LeGoff)

When Kentucky Center for African American Heritage Center Director Aukram Burton describes Elmer Lucille Allen as, “one of our Elders,” he is not just acknowledging that the ceramic and fiber artist is an Octogenarian. The term carries weight in various cultures, but in parts of Africa it specifically denotes a connection to ancestors, the dead who remain vested with mystical power in the kin-group, and the elder’s authority stems from the idea that they are representatives of the ancestors to the contemporary community.

Elmer Lucille Allen is as approachable and convivial as anyone you would ever meet, but she is a “senior” (the far less satisfying American appellation) who has never truly retired. She earned the gold watch, so to speak, after 31 years as a chemist at Brown-Forman, where she was the first African American chemist to be hired (in 1966). In the twenty years since she retired, she has established herself as one of the most important artists in Louisville and an important influence on succeeding generations.

In person, Ms. Allen is an archetypal matriarch, speaking in the unadorned but nurturing language you would expect from any great-grandmother. She exhibits little outward evidence of the depth of her academic background, the years spent as a community activist, and the position she occupies in local history; she never wears her ‘status’ on her sleeve. She puts it this way: “I take it as an honor because what I do is part of who I am.”

"Untitled ELA #5" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Shibori Wall Hanging Red Kona Cotton – Stitched Resist – Dyed Blue Price, $2000 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #5" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Shibori Wall Hanging Red Kona Cotton – Stitched Resist – Dyed Blue Price, $2000 | BUY NOW

“I became involved in the art scene in the early 1980s when Ken Clay, then head of Renaissance Development, held the first African American (AA) Arts Conference at the Galt House. After this conference, the Kentucky Coalition for Afro-American Arts, Inc. (KCAAA) was formed. I was the first and only president of this organization that lasted 10 years. When I decided that I did not want to continue as President, the treasury was donated to the Arts Council of Louisville. I was a charter member of the ACOL and a treasurer for four years.”

Ms. Allen states she has never felt a bias in the arts, but her history before she was an artist is another matter, and reflects the time. “Remember, I came up through a segregated system and did not have classes with a white person until I was a junior in college. I experienced racial difference when Nazareth College (now Spalding University) graduates in 1953 were looking for a place to host a graduation event. The event was eventually held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.”

“When I graduated I could not get a job as a chemist in Louisville. The only jobs available were teaching. My first job was as a clerk typist in Indianapolis, Indiana, at Fort Benjamin Harrison. There was bias on that job - one person from a city in Indiana had never been around a "colored" person, but you have to be who you are and stand up for what you believe. ‘Speak to a person even if the person does not acknowledge you.’” 

Allen took her first pottery class at Seneca High School in the late 1970’s after her children were all grown and out of the house. She never gave empty nest syndrome a chance, following up with mold ceramics or pottery classes through JCPS and New Albany adult education. But this was still just the beginning: “Then I enrolled in a ceramics class at Metro Arts Center where I studied with Melvin Rowe. Also, while I was a student there I had the pleasure to meet Laura Ross, a national ceramic artist who encouraged me to take classes at the University of Louisville with internationally recognized ceramicist Tom Marsh.”

But studying ad hoc wasn’t enough, and, after retiring she decided to seek a masters in ceramics at U of L. It was while studying for her master’s that she was introduced to a second art media - fiber/textiles. “My thesis exhibition consisted of stenciled wall hangings and over 200 reduction fired porcelain sculptural boxes that were placed on boards on the floor, which meant you had to view the pieces while standing.”

Lucille Allen in a workshop (Photo by Aron Conaway)

Lucille Allen in a workshop (Photo by Aron Conaway)

Whatever racial or gender restrictions she encountered in her earlier life, Allen’s first years in the art world were mostly lacking in such difficulties. “I have not experienced any discrimination as a woman artist or as an artist of color. My work does not depict any culture - it speaks for itself. I create work that I enjoy making. I do not do commissions. I have been fortunate because I did not have to depend on selling art for a living. I retired in 1997 and have been volunteering in some capacity ever since.”

Yet she is not blind that many artists of color find it a challenge to reach wider audiences and secure their place at the larger community table, particularly in the visual arts world. “I think that one organization needs to take control. At the present every organization's president has their own agenda and is not looking out for other persons or organizations, and small organizations normally do not have a specific place, computer equipment, or expertise for such large undertaking.” 

One of the values of being an Elder is that you have been a witness to the changes in the arts and cultural landscape that surrounds you. Allen can recount a time when there was much effort in the name of unity and inclusion. “Years ago, Louisville Visual Art had a large (non-digital) database of artists and arts organizations. The Kentucky Arts Council funded two directories of African American artists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Two conferences were held, one in Lexington, and one in Louisville. They conducted free workshops for the community at the Chestnut Street YMCA, West End branch of the YWCA, as well as other venues. Bale McKnight, who conducted drum making at the YMCA, created a drum that was in Chickasaw Park, which was the first public art project in the West End. KCAAA was the fiscal agent for Educations Arts and the dance group founded by Harlina Churn.” You see, Elders know the history.

So how does Louisville recapture that level of motivation again? What actions need to be taken today to build a functional community network? Allen feels, “Everyone is waiting for someone else to do the hard work,” but individuals who want to be leaders need to focus on developing their game in crucial ways; Elders also get to give advice:

  • Organizational and leadership skills are a must. 
  • You have to show up and be willing to assume responsibilities. 
  • You must not be afraid to fail. You learn from your mistakes.
  • You, as a leader, must be presentable and responsible for your actions at all times. Remember the golden rule - Do unto others as you want others to do to you.
  • You must be punctual.
  • Respect the time of others. Meetings should have an agenda and should not exceed two hours.
"Untitled ELA #2" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #2" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 | BUY NOW

So how does this near-iconic status affect Elmer Lucille Allen’s work as an artist? Or does it? “My work is not impacted by my place in history,” states Allen. ”The work that I have done since 1981 speaks for itself. I have been the volunteer curator/director of Wayside Christian Mission's Wayside Expressions Gallery since 2005.  My goal is to showcase artists, some of which have never exhibited. My second goal has been to have an African American artist or artists for February. I have done the scheduling, press releases, fliers, finding new artists, etc., from my home. I think my presence in the art world has afforded me the opportunity to be asked to serve as judge for the 2016 Fund for Arts, as a panelist for Metro arts grants, etc.”

“I think that over the years, the community sees who is where and what you are doing. Action speaks louder then words.”

You can see Elmer Lucille Allen’s work as a part of the Louisville Visual Art exhibit Tessile Ora, at Metro Hall, now through May 26, 2017. 

Recognitions/Awards: 
Louisville Defender – Lifetime Community Service Recognition Award (2016)
Outstanding Community Leader by Metro Council (2016) 
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft’s First Art and Advocacy Award – Bourbon Bash (2015) 
Parkland Rising Up Project (2015) 
Community Spirit Award given by the University of Louisville College of Arts and Science and the Yearlings Club (2015) 
Spalding University Caritas Medal (2011) - the highest honor awarded to an alumnus 

"Untitled ELA #4 – Shibori Wall Hanging" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Natural Silk Noil – Three Panels - Stitched Resist and Pole Wrapped – Dyed Blue, $1000 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #4 – Shibori Wall Hanging" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Natural Silk Noil – Three Panels - Stitched Resist and Pole Wrapped – Dyed Blue, $1000 | BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #1" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 |  BUY NOW

"Untitled ELA #1" by Elmer Lucille Allen, Stenciled Wall Hanging Black Polyester Fabric Price, $750 | BUY NOW


This Feature article was written by Keith Waits.
In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, www.Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.


Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Painting

Q&A: Julie Rolwing


"When I am lost in my work, my mind is off of everything else and the troubles of our world seem to disappear." – Julie Rolwing


"Downtown at Dusk" by Julie Rowling, 11x14in, mixed media on cold press water color paper (2016), $225 (matted & framed) |  BUY NOW

"Downtown at Dusk" by Julie Rowling, 11x14in, mixed media on cold press water color paper (2016), $225 (matted & framed) | BUY NOW

While she was always interested in art, Julie Rolwing only began painting about four years ago through a class at Gilda’s Club of Louisville. Rolwing had undergone treatment for breast cancer followed by a back injury that has left her permanently disabled. She endeavors to paint every day and has sold several through social media but, because of her physical disabilities, has yet to exhibit in a gallery.

You started painting only four years ago. Tell us how and why you got started.

I started painting after having participated in an art therapy class at Gilda’s Club that I became involved with after my treatment for breast cancer. I had been attending the class for a year or so before I broke down and bought some paints of my own and set up a studio. It was through this class that I discovered that I was indeed a pretty talented painter.  

I have always been artistic but never really painted. My father and brother were painters and I think I felt intimidated by them. Though I studied art in my early years at Western Kentucky University, I was more into textiles. Painting, to me seemed too messy! I regret that I did not finish my art education and wish I knew more about history and technique. Though I seldom follow rules in my painting, as I believe that the best work often comes by accident, I think it’s good to have the foundation.

Would you describe your painting as therapeutic? What does it mean to you?  

Yes, definitely! Sometimes I feel as though I go through withdrawal if too many days go by and I haven’t painted something, I try to paint every day - at the very minimum I paint on the weekends.

"Untitled" by Julie Rowling, mixed media on metalic matte board (2016), $225 (framed) |  BUY NOW

"Untitled" by Julie Rowling, mixed media on metalic matte board (2016), $225 (framed) | BUY NOW

Who or what inspires you now?

I continue to be inspired by my late father and often while I paint, I can feel his presence. Family members have told me that my work looks so much like his that it is hard to tell the difference. I consider that the greatest of compliments! My friend and mentor, Mary Scott Blake, who facilitates the class at Gilda’s Club, also continually inspire me. While most of the time I jump ahead of her instruction and go way off the page, I have learned so much from her. I would not be painting today if it had not been for her time and dedication. Watching others create also inspires me. Each March I facilitate a charity-painting workshop to benefit Gilda’s Club of Louisville and I am so inspired by the work of the participants, I spend several months painting from that inspiration. 2017 will be our third year to hold this benefit. 

What frightens you the most?   

I think what frightens me the most is the uncertain economy – while we have bounced back from the last recession, the election has brought more uncertainty.   The lack of compassion I have seen, scares the heck out of me – though in a good way it has sent me into my studio more so than it might have otherwise.  

"Water Lilies" by Julie Rowling, 9x11in, liquid water color and pen and ink on cold press water color paper (2016), $125 (matted & framed) |  BUY NOW

"Water Lilies" by Julie Rowling, 9x11in, liquid water color and pen and ink on cold press water color paper (2016), $125 (matted & framed) | BUY NOW

What are you reading right now?

I AM A BOOK JUNKY! I have 1628 books on my Kindle and 587 on my Nook.  I easily have at least five books going at one time. I like mostly humorous novels set in the South – I just read one by Anne River Siddons that I enjoyed. That said, about every fifth book or so I feel needs to be edifying in some way – either spiritually or historically. Last week I read a biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe that I found to be extremely fascinating.  

"Tiger Lilly" by Julie Rowling, 8x10in,  acrylic and water color mix on canvas panel  (2016),   $175 (double matted & framed) |   BUY NOW

"Tiger Lilly" by Julie Rowling, 8x10in, acrylic and water color mix on canvas panel (2016), $175 (double matted & framed) |  BUY NOW

If you were given $100,000 what would do with it?

Buy a new car and then hit the road and travel the United States for a couple of months staying in Bed & Breakfast Inns in small towns across the country.  

What does art mean to you?

Art is not only a means of expression for me it is also a mean of escape. When I am lost in my work, my mind is off of everything else and the troubles of our world seem to disappear.

What do you feel is your greatest flaw?

That’s easy – I buy too many books! I also have too many projects going at one time and I am impatient with my work. I could never work on a painting for more than two days, which is why I like small watercolors. I have also been told I don’t charge enough for my pieces but the way I look at it, I do them to share with other people and not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting. I feel like if I invest fifty dollars in a painting and sell it for $100 - $150, I’ve made nice profit and I am not really trying to earn a living.

What's your favorite place to visit?  

That is hard to say since I am not that well traveled. I have been to NYC and Chicago and LA. I have to say I was in total awe of Chicago. Places I want to visit include New Orleans, Savannah, GA, the Carolinas, Martha’s Vineyard and Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Age: 56
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jaie.rolwing

"Nora" by Julie Rowling, 11x14in, acrylic, liquid water color, pencil and coffee (2016), $195 (matted & framed) |  BUY NOW

"Nora" by Julie Rowling, 11x14in, acrylic, liquid water color, pencil and coffee (2016), $195 (matted & framed) | BUY NOW

Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Mixed Media

Vignette: Caroline Waite

A photograph of Caroline Waite in her studio.

A photograph of Caroline Waite in her studio.

"One Small Planet" by Caroline Waite, 10x11x2.5in, tin, paper mache, gouache paintings, model trees, globe, chain. $950 |  BUY NOW

"One Small Planet" by Caroline Waite, 10x11x2.5in, tin, paper mache, gouache paintings, model trees, globe, chain. $950 | BUY NOW

Objects are memory in Caroline Waite’s work. Trained as a Printmaker and with experience in Textiles, it should come as no surprise that, when she found herself developing three-dimensional work, the constructions would include repetition. Patterns can be discovered in the recurrence of the objects themselves, culled from her ever-expanding collection (artists were recycling long before it was fashionable or essential), or an even more fundamental echoing of motifs or design elements within the structure of a piece.

 “Things are displayed in my studio, either pinned to the wall or arranged on a surface and eventually a dialogue begins. Once I recognize the potential relationship between these objects, a narrative develops and I get to work.

I love the element of mystery surrounding old objects – the questions as to their meaning, their origin and age – in other words, their “secret lives”.”

In England, Waite taught at Northbrook College, Sussex North East Wales University Telford College, Shropshire. Since moving to the U.S. in 2001, she has lived in Texas and New Mexico but prefers her current home of Louisville, even if two house moves in two years has meant little time for involvement in exhibitions:

"Beauty Beckons" by Caroline Waite, 24x12x2in, forged steel, vintage drafting tools, Nymphenburg German porcelain hand, hand painted panel and various mixed media, $1700 |  BUY NOW

"Beauty Beckons" by Caroline Waite, 24x12x2in, forged steel, vintage drafting tools, Nymphenburg German porcelain hand, hand painted panel and various mixed media, $1700 | BUY NOW

“However, new work has been in production with exciting developments including a collaboration with a metal fabricator on forged, steel pieces, allowing me to pursue an interest in wall sculptures.” In an interview on PUBLIC, Waite talked about how the intimacy of her work seems in contrast to the American taste for scale. Perhaps this burgeoning interest in developing larger work is a sign that time in the States is exerting some influence on her.

Waite is currently exhibiting with Tom Pfannerstill at Galerie Hertz in Louisville, Kentucky through December 31, 2016, and she will be participating in Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter, a major invitational exhibit at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, England, that opens on December 9, 2016.

Hometown: Cookham Dean, England
Age: 57
Education: BA, Honors in Fine Art, Cheltenham College of Art; Art Teaching Degree, Brighton Polytechnic
Gallery Representation: Galerie Hertz (Louisville)
Website: http://carolinewaite.com

"'Sphinx' (detail)" by Caroline Waite, 14x12x2.5in, antique doll, paper collage, wire in antique repurposed frame, $600 |  BUY NOW

"'Sphinx' (detail)" by Caroline Waite, 14x12x2.5in, antique doll, paper collage, wire in antique repurposed frame, $600 | BUY NOW

"Scene Unseen" by Caroline Waite, 24x12x2.5in, forged steel, carved ivory panels, painted panels, vintage drafting tools and other mixed media, $1600 |  BUY NOW

"Scene Unseen" by Caroline Waite, 24x12x2.5in, forged steel, carved ivory panels, painted panels, vintage drafting tools and other mixed media, $1600 | BUY NOW

"'Miraculous Discoveries" by Caroline Waite, 38x27x3in, large display case of hand constructed and collaged insects (sourced from detailed photographs of preserved insects), dolls eyes, card stock, wire, and magazine paper, $5500 |  BUY NOW

"'Miraculous Discoveries" by Caroline Waite, 38x27x3in, large display case of hand constructed and collaged insects (sourced from detailed photographs of preserved insects), dolls eyes, card stock, wire, and magazine paper, $5500 | BUY NOW

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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