Originally published in the Taos News
Photo: Teresa Dovalpage.
I am wearing my favorite shawl, a creation of Faith.
Faith Welsh’s line of wearable art is a unique combination of comfort, beauty and versatility. She is a skillful knitter, but her shawls, vests, scarves and jackets go well beyond a simple combination of stitches.
Welsh uses a variety of materials like leather, fabric, metals and beads. She mixes them to create pieces that can be worn for formal occasions or just everyday, for the pure pleasure of it.
She grew up in Connecticut, in a creative family whose influence is still felt in her daily life. “My father was a wood sculptor and my mother a phantom knitter who also did amazing stencil work on furniture,” she said. “Both my grandmothers knitted, embroidered and quilted.”
Welsh learned to knit and paint when she was very young. “I have been doing both since I can remember,” she said.
Her art has followed a continuing journey and a process of transformation.
“Faith Welsh has blossomed and grown for the last few years and she has taken her knitting to a new level,” said Carolyn Hinske, the Harwood Museum’s Store Manager and an artist herself. “She does a stunning job of mixing the different textures and yarns within and without the patterns.”
Every month Hinske organizes a Shop & Learn Trunk Show at the Harwood’s Store. Featured artists come in on the first Saturday of the month, from 12 noon to 2 pm and explain what they do, and their work stays there until the end of the month. Sometimes they also do a practical demonstration.
“Faith was the featured artist in November and her pieces were a total success,” she said. “When she came, she demonstrated her techniques for knitting with beads and people were delighted to learn them.”
Hinske decided to keep the pieces that weren’t sold after the November Shop & Learn Trunk Show ended. “They are a great addition to our store,” she said. “Visitors come in and fall in love with them.”
Welsh is both a painter who knits and a knitter who paints. She has been painting professionally for more than 20 years. Her piece Martin’s Song, an acrylic collage on clay panel, was shown at the opening of the new Taos Town Hall last year.
“I am always astounded by the processes that painting and knitting share,” she said. “To me, it is all the same. My idea is to create a personal surface, using unusual combinations of materials to add texture.”
When she paints, she often does an underpainting with gesso, gel and various textured mediums and lets it dry so it is white on white.
“Later I drop the paint onto the surface and let it run into the cracks and ﬁssures left in the underpainting,” she explains. “I continue to build up the surface by layering and adding collaged elements.”
In knitting, Welsh also likes combining different stitches together, switching to crochet and changing colors to create a similar effect.
“I layer several pieces together to achieve a multi dimensional look,” she said. “I tend to like unstructured garments that are born from using free form techniques, such as intarsia and random lace.”
Many of her projects involve a combination of knitting and crocheting techniques with diverse materials like paper, gels, fiber and even found objects.
“I create because I am enthralled with the process,” she said. “Driven by the act of following my hands to allow space for the unexpected to come through, my work develops from exploration.”
Welsh draws her inspiration from the natural world around her. Many of her knitted pieces have landscape elements in them.
“The Waters’ Pasture Sunset Bolero Vest was inspired by the resplendent fall colors so evident in this beautiful place beneath El Salto,” she said. “Enchanted Forest Kimono came about after a hike to Williams Lake where I was enthralled by the lichen patterns on the scattered rocks in the boulder fields.”
She is also inspired by poetry. A piece exhibited in the Beyond the Fringe Show 2010 was based on the poem “sky is everywhere; blue burqa sky” by Veronica Golos. The poem inspired Welsh to explore the meaning of the veil and its significance in western society.
Golos and Welsh also collaborated on Threaded Lives, Poems from the Fiber World, an “ekphrasis” or multi art event joining fiber artists and poets in 2009.
“Faith’s piece, which began as a free-form knitted headdress, morphed into something else as we worked together,” said Golos. “She’d mounted the headdress on a manikin’s head, a black head upon which hats are usually put. We looked at the entire thing and the poem began to evolve… in the voice of an ancient queen, whose land had been ravaged. The poem, “Unveiled,” is part of my poetry book, Vocabulary of Silence. Faith began to work on the head itself, plastering it, burning it, “ruining” it, until it was—as was the country I imagined—ravaged. Faith is a true artist, not only in fiber and painting, but also in understanding.”
Welsh’s work can be found in the store of the Harwood Museum of Art on Ledoux Street and in Weaving Southwest on PaseodelPuebloNorte. Her studio on Witt Roadis open by appointment.Faith Welsh
Snow Lion Studios
1005 Witt Road
Taos, NM 87571
Phone: 575 737 0280
To learn more about Veronica Golos visit http://veronicagolos.wordpress.com/Garments on display at the Harwood store