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Meet Kathy Nida

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathy Nida.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I learned to sew about the same time I learned to draw, under the age of 10. I sewed my own clothes for a while, which is something few people do any more (I’m not THAT old). I also kept drawing and making art, focusing more on printmaking, photography, and ceramics while I was in college and for some years after that. At some point, all my skills merged into one way of creating. In the early 1990s, I learned a variety of methods for making quilts. Eventually, all these ideas morphed what I knew about sewing with what I had been doing in printmaking and drawing into art quilts, which is what I make now. I take my drawings and turn them into fabric art that hangs on the wall. I’ve been making art quilts since the late 1990s.

Please tell us about your art.
I make art quilts. These don’t go on your bed. They are pictures made with fabric instead of paint, with commercial prints for my palette or colors. I use what I learned about screenprinting in school, making shapes into blocks of color that could be printed separately, with what I knew about putting fabric together from sewing as a child.

I start each art quilt with a line drawing, enlarge it, turn it into a pattern for a few thousand fabric pieces, and then put them together like a puzzle. I generally work fairly large…my current piece will finish at about 60×70″.

I’ve spent many years making art about being a woman or the issues of being a mother, but recent years have pushed me into some more political issues, covering climate change, gun control, especially in the schools, and women’s rights. I’m more interested in what people think and feel when they view my work, rather than to tell people what they should be seeing in each piece. Even if they don’t like the work itself, we can hopefully still have a conversation.

I find the process of making art quilts very meditative and relaxing, which counteracts a stressful day job as a middle-school science teacher.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
I’m not that worried about success. I’ve always made art…it’s a drive for me. It’s not something I choose to do or not. I must do it. It’s nice to have work get into shows, to travel, to even sell because then you know your work is continuing to have a conversation with other people. As an introvert, I’m much more willing to put my art out into the world to converse than to go out there myself. Artists need to believe their work is important even if it doesn’t sell or become hugely popular immediately. The work is the important part. I think artists should be making every single day. If I can come home from work every day and commit to an hour or more on my art, I will always be making progress.

I’ve been making art for many years, working hard at it, so it’s not luck that I am getting into shows and being offered opportunities…it’s years of practice. It’s the same thing I tell my students…you get better by practicing.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work is on my website, I also frequently exhibit locally, statewide, and internationally. More details on those shows appear on my website as they happen. I’m also a member of California Fibers, Allied Craftsmen, and Feminist Image Group, all local art groups that exhibit around the county. I will have a solo show in Pittsburgh, PA, opening in May. I currently have a piece in a traveling exhibit, Things That Matter, which is currently in Chandler, AZ, and will travel to St. George, UT, in March.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gary Conaughton

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