Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cathy Stechschulte

Several years ago, to my surprise, I recalled early memories of my fascination with textiles. As a child, I delighted in going to my favorite aunt’s Interior Design Studio. There, I would page through book after book of fabric samples, marveling at all the designs and colors.

Life took me in other directions for decades as I raised a family and had careers in teaching and clinical counseling. However, I always found a way to be a sideline artist, cheering others’ artistic passions. Two of my children are now working artists. In addition, I used art therapy as an effective tool in counseling children, adolescents, and adults.

Happenstance and chance-encounters over the last ten years brought me to my own art. I met and learned from incredible artist/teachers: Paula Swett, Jane Sassaman, Nancy Crow, Jan Myers-Newbury, Diane Reardon, and ultimately, Jane Dunnewold During my first Complex Cloth Workshop with Jane Dunnewold, I rediscovered my early love of textiles and decided that designing textiles would be my encore career. With Jane as my teacher and guide over the last three years, I can now describe myself as an emerging artist.

Just as there are cycles in my own life, I look at the world around me noticing in nature the seasonal cycles...and always the promise of new beginnings. Images and colors emerge from my garden, the countryside and forests of Central Pennsylvania, and from my passion for food and cooking. To support my creative process, I journal, in both written and visual forms, photograph, and sketch from observation. There is a dance between "intention" and "playfulness" - two energies at work in my art.

Designs for my textiles develop primarily from my photographs and observational drawings. Starting with black or white fabric, the process begins with dyeing or discharging then overdyeing. Manipulating the fabric in various ways produces interesting surfaces. Textile paints are applied through hand-drawn stencils and silkscreens to cover the surface with images of varying sizes; these are layered to create depth. After careful consideration, I may choose to add other mixed-media embellishments, such as, foiling, metal leaf lamination, embroidery, beading. Presently, most of my designs are organic, but abstracting the organic images is also an exciting new direction.

When failures with projects have occurred, creative problem-solving has followed, and surprises have emerged. Endings have become new beginnings. These experiences of surrendering to the process have been exhilarating and liberating for me. I find it helpful to remind myself to always be a child.


Cathy Stechschulte is a Pennsylvania-based textile artist. In 2008 her art quilt "Descansos" was juried into Quilt Visions 2008, San Diego, California. She also received an Honorable Mention in the Fabric 2008 exhibit at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium, Athens, Ohio. In 2009, Cathy will complete the two and a half year Art Cloth Mastery Program at Art Cloth Studios, and will be a featured artist at Gallery Nord, San Antonio, Texas.

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