Artist Statement & Awards/Recognition

My mom is a brilliant and gifted artist, so, one could say the artistic mindset came to me in the womb.  As a four year-old I learned to crochet from my daycare mom.  In my preteen years my best friend's mom taught me to knit.  During my college freshman year I taught myself to sew with the help of reflections on a 7th grade Home Economics class, instructions included in commercial pattern envelopes and a good learning-to-sew type book.

For several decades I have created wearable items by means of needle knitting and sewing.  Garments I have made or designed and constructed have appeared on national television, in yarn shops, on stage in a production at the University of Massachusetts, and in my own wardrobe.  Just thinking of the words 'fabric', 'cloth', 'textiles', gives me goosebumps, causes my heart to flutter, brings a song to my soul!  Many of you can probably relate.  Although I have not yet put my fabric scraps to work in a quilt, I keep collecting leftovers from my wardrobe projects just waiting.  One day. . .

In the early 1990's an acquaintance introduced me to polymer clay.  Since that time I have foregone eating and sleeping many times in the quest to perfect art beads, buttons, pots, pendants and neckpieces that make a statement and what I have titled the "HeartBox™".

Influenced by Pueblo, Navajo, Chinese and African art traditions the process I use to create patterns in clay is borrowed from the glassmaking traditions of millefiori and murrini cane work.  This process involves mixing several stacked, graduated shades of two or more colors. To these forms I add metallic inclusions or color with fine art markers then stack them into blocks followed by cutting, combining and recombining the pieces to create intricate patterns. These blocks are then reduced, divided and combined again to create increasingly complex patterns that are assembled into a variety of earrings, brooches, and neckpieces. By carving or applying gold, silver or copper leaf I add richness and texture to the clay. Over the last three years I have been developing what I refer to as the kdqCane.  Finally, each piece receives a surface finishing process of up to ten levels of ultra fine sanding that creates a smooth, semi-gloss surface. Additionally, some pieces receive a final buffing with cotton to bring out a glassy sheen. Depending on size and complexity of design the development of each piece involves 8 to 50 hours of crafting.

I string necklaces and pendants using stainless steel cables, cotton or synthetic cord or other non-traditional materials. On many pieces I use semi-precious stones, African beads, metal beads, glass seed beads and Sworovski crystals for contrast and accent.

One year, a while back, I went on a long walk with an international group of approximately sixty people. Walking across 14 countries over thirteen months at a rate of about 25 miles per day on the "Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage" I learned that craft-art is who I am.  Until that journey I always thought craft-art is what I did.

Now, I strive to bring clearly my artistic voice into form, to discern and describe "Black American" as wearable and functional art.

Awards and Recognition

2014 Selected artist, National Juried Art Exhibit, "Black Creativity", Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Ill.

2013  Contributing artist: "The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style and Identity", Smithsonian Institution, Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.

2012 Selected artist, National Juried Art Exhibit, "Black Creativity", Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Ill.

2012 Community Educator, "Creating with Polymer Clay", Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA

2012  Artist Square Group Gallery, Springfield, MA

2012  Featured Artist, Worcester Center for Crafts, Worcester State University, Worcester, MA

2011 Guest Speaker, Austin Riggs Center, Erikson Institution for Education and Research
Creativity Seminar, "Finding Voice, Lifting Voices: Oppression and Creativity"

2011 Shout! Polymer Exhibition. Online at Crafthaus

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 "First Place" Best in show, Jewelry, Mattoon St. Art Festival, Springfield, MA

2009 Contributing artist: "Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture", Smithsonian Institution, Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.

What people say about Kathleen's work:
"Thank you sooo much for sharing with me your jewelry that is more like works of art!  Each piece was more beautiful than the next and it makes me think of what clothing to wear with it in order to compliment your unique jewelry.  Your explanation of the painstaking techniques you use helped me to understand just how elaborate the process is and how special each piece is.  You have truly given a voice to what Black-American jewelry looks like."  Tiana Piles
"Your work is sooooo beautiful!
We are lucky to own a piece...José loves the piece I bought for him."
Phyllis L., Artist
"Hi Kathleen,
Your art is so moving. I will pass the pictures to
friends."  De
“Hi Kathleen, WOW. Your jewelry is stunning---completely unique and glorious in the colors! I never knew clay could do such things!"     Dorothy C, Artist
“Kathleen creates colorful patterns in polymer clay. Some of her jewelry has a tribal feel while her boxes, to me, look more modern. With clay in hand she also takes the time to demonstrate to visitors how she combines canes of clay into the blocks that she cuts to create her designs. I'm still not certain most people realize the time, forethought, and patience this process requires." Jan Bajgier, Polymer Clay Artist
“Kathleen’s designs have a meditative quality; you can look at them again and again and see different things in them and find different expressions off the Africa-American experience.”   Cynthia P., editor
 "What a beautiful necklace!! She is a true Artisan!" Debbie
 " You are a phenomenal artist. Just phenomenal.  Really. You belong in the Met Museum." Daisy B. Author

Greenfield Community College
Community Education Instructor Selected for Black Creativity Juried Exhibition in Chicago

Amherst Bulletin Newspaper--Arts & Leisure
"Notes for Aunt Margaret"