Threads and stitches bring stories into art

When Patricia Knight picked up an old hospital dividing curtain from a bin at Goodwill, she thought it was a pretty good deal for backing cloth for another project. At $10 per curtain, measuring 14 by 7 feet, it seemed like quite a find.

Because Patricia was a struggling art student at the time, four curtains was her financial limit.

Now, she wishes she could have bought all of them!

This young woman has taken these curtains and created art pieces from them, using images from her photographs as well as images captured by gestural drawings. It’s an interesting concept and at first glance, it seems like a lot of coloured thread with a beige backdrop.

A slow walk past each of Patricia’s curtains, now adorning the walls at the Rotunda at Barrie City Hall, and what seems pretty mundane takes on real life meaning. Patricia has incorporated her personal experiences into this project and the general public is welcome to explore her vision until Thursday of next week.

This is Patricia’s second public show at the Rotunda. The first was a series of photographs, framed by her in the woodworking area of her studio.

Patricia’s show, entitled Observations of Art, capsulizes her own life experiences and embraces the colour and fabric of her mother’s life at the same time. Describing her mother as a woman with an ensemble for every occasion, a meticulous dresser with a flair for fashion, Patricia has celebrated her mom with much of the material she’s used in this project.

Fibre Art. That’s what it’s called. She was stimulated to complete her first panel while a Fine Art student at Georgian College. Her instructor encouraged her to use her urban streetscape experiences and combine them with life images and blend the two into one art piece.

The first panel was inspired by a hospital in New Brunswick that was completely covered by graffiti art. The hospital was closed but not secured very well and graffiti artists went to “work” on it. Patricia has mimicked the graffiti artist, looking in onto a gallery at images of every day urban life.

Challenged with this large-scale drawing in fibre, Patricia went on to complete three more panels which now form the current show. Panel 2 offers two different scenes. The gestural strokes outline people listening to a guitarist on a public street in Toronto. Mingled in between are docturs and nurses at work with patients, images that are stitched onto the fabric. Life.

Panel 3 bursts into colour as the large drawings offer corded color, slip stitched and braided, rolled and bent to create texture and depth. The gestural drawings combine with people watching these images from outside, from the front of a building, looking in.

Her last panel is extremely colourful, reconstructed fibre to create fibre replicas of real people, models who she sketched at school. The medical tableaux which intermingle are chain stitched.

All of this happens on four old hospital curtains. It brings the art of medical care into urban settings and mimicks art hanging in public places.

Part of what makes these panels so unique is Patricia’s own story.

Her mother’s love affair with clothes carried over into Patricia’s own experiences. As a child, she was dressed in frilly, lovely dresses, complete outfits as her mother shared her own interest in fashion. And Patricia grew up, finished school and decided to become a plumber! She loved being a plumber, describing it as a different art installation every day. She worked for a heating and air conditioning company in Toronto before moving to Barrie five years ago.

Her love of plumbing took a back seat as her heart started to race, to hold her breathless for minutes at a time. Her medical experiences located a heart irregularity which ultimately caused insertion of a pacemaker. With this Patricia’s plumbing career was over… pretty hard to get worker’s comp insurance for an hvac worker installing air conditioning ducts in tight spaces!

What to do, what to do? And Patricia turned to Georgian College and its fine art program. Living with compromised physical activity hasn’t stopped her from exploring her creative side and she has zeroed in not only on fibre art but on stained glass, print making, wood working, oil painting, sculpture and drawing. Her hospital stays, and her bedside care of her mother during her hospital stays have given Patricia rich images to share as she carries on her life story.

Patricia is pleased to have this show open to the public at the Rotunda. But these are very large panels that need a large space in which to hang and tell their stories. She┬╣s hopeful that this will surface.

Meanwhile you can enjoy urban images with a medical initiative.

Thanks, Patricia.