If we still lived in Colorado today, it is possible I would know Carolyn Nelson personally through our passion for hand stitched textile art, and I’m sure I would have seen her work in exhibitions there and be familiar with the evolution of her beautiful textile work. As it is though, I only discovered it through browsing on Pinterest the other day by pinning the image of one of her works and following the link to her website, http://www.carolynnelsonart.com
After studying art and then becoming an art educator, designer and dollmaker, Carolyn says that when she reached her mid 50’s, she finally felt she’d found her own voice as an artist. Her outline of that process is beautifully written and well worth reading.
Certainly my eye was caught by the strong reds of the piece, but closer inspection showed that the surface marks are stitches forming the word ‘YES’ repeatedly stitched in silk, hundreds and possibly thousands of times. Carolyn says people have commented on her levels of patience: “People often ask about my “remarkable patience.” I do not have patience, I have grit. The only way to see my ideas is to make them. There are, by now, predictable stages of work — imagination, anticipation, frustration, doubting, denial, ripping out, restarting, tedium, and finally, often after months, a burst of energy near the end when I start to believe in what I am seeing.”
This work is testament enough to her determination to carry out large intense areas of hand stitching, but equal and possibly more stunning examples exist in her works conveying swirling, capricious movements of air with layers of straight stitches of hand dyed silk threads over hand dyed silk fabrics, in rich surfaces of colour and texture – see Gallery 1 , Stitching Light.