On Cloth Connections

Lorie McCown’s seeks “hand” in craft

I started my artist’s way as a painter and a drawer.  I went to college in Southern California, and studied drawing, art history and painting, and earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Art. I was thrilled to be among other serious artists for the first time. It was a wonderful and intense time of my life.

I am always looking for the artist’s ‘hand’ in the artwork. I’m always looking for that thinking and sketchiness part of a piece of art. I try and keep this aspect in my work, as I think it adds a dimension of personal thought.

To start with, I have made it a point for the last few years to work with recycled materials. I rarely buy new fabric anymore. There is just so much available for me to pick from, and I have a real love for the old, mended and worn out fabrics and textiles.  I usually draw extra meaning from those very materials for my work.  I keep all my tools and materials simple. I love the direct application of marks, and eschew methods that distance, rather than draw me closer to my work.  I am not a gadget person, and I enjoy and revere the act of needle pulling thread.

My themes are right now, family roles, storytelling, and the place of older women in the historical world. I love to embark on a piece that is somewhat planned, but yet has an element of exploring. I do start with a rough sketch, and allow for digression. One idea may meld into another, and then another.  Circling around to encompass a comprehensive concept, I know when I’ve hit on something, because it resonates. It sends echoes into the ether.  It’s a sweet challenge to me to take something that might be deemed ‘ugly’ or discarded and transform  it into an artistic statement. Not necessarily a statement of beauty, either.  I hope my work makes viewers pause and contemplate, even perhaps wonder.  Layers of media and meaning are always at the forefront when I am stitching. The building up and repeating of my own personal symbols create a narrative of a sort. 

I tend to concentrate more on hand stitch, as it is contemplative work and also considered a ‘minor’ art form. To repurpose this technique in a contemporary art arena, gives me great delight. I’m drawn into historical concepts of stitching and textiles, and endeavor to incorporate both the textiles, mostly discarded, and humble techniques, such as darning and embroidery work into my pieces. 

Reading and text is very important to me, and I include words in my pieces. I admire authors and music composers. I believe in cross pollination for artists, and always encourage my students to study outside their medium. I believe it makes for richer contexts and deeper meanings in art making. 

Lorie McCown’s work has been featured in Art Quilting Studio Magazine, Quilting Arts Magazine, Surface Design Magazine, Fiber Art Now Magazine and Artist's Portfolio Magazine. She teaches workshops and classes nationally in painting, mixed media and fiber arts. To learn more visit www.loriemccown.com.

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