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interview with catherine reinhart

The Stewart Gallery will be presenting Bricks & Blocks, a month-long art exhibit with work by Ames artist Catherine Reinhart. The exhibit runs from April 16 – May 25, 2018 with the opening reception on Saturday, April 21 from 5-6:30pm.


via Catherine Reinhart

FD: Can you describe your fiber process? What goes into the creation of one of your pieces?

CR: For my Leisure Suit Series, shown in Bricks & Blocks, I began with a forgotten quilt that I was gifted to by a friend. I believe she obtained in amongst a box of more valuable textiles at a local auction in Southern Iowa, near my childhood home. It was a polyester monstrosity, with square of florescent pink and caution orange but I was drawn to the discarded object. I proceeded to disassemble the queen sized (giant!) quilt into portions which were aesthetically digestible. From these 50 or so quilt block sections, I then translated the color relationships and patterns in thread. This is done using a quilting process I have developed which uses free motion machine sewing to construct a cloth.

Recently, my fiber works have all been created using this machine sewing technique. However, the genesis for each piece varies from research museum textile collections to estate sale finds. I am drawn to specific textile objects which have been discarded or undervalued representing the concept of redemption.

FD: What is the idea behind your installation at the Grinnell Arts Center?

CR: My idea evolved from visiting downtown Grinnell, a series of past sculptural works and the encouragement of the Grinnell Arts Council to build an interactive element to accompany the exhibition.  I was particularly struck by all of the brick and limestone used as building materials.

My installations almost always have an interactive or participatory nature to them. For this installation, visitors will help fill hallow Plexiglas bricks alongside me at the reception. These units will live in the interior of the Grinnell Art Center and it is my hope that visitors will stack, hide, sort and move these bricks during the duration of the exhibition.

FD: How does your work re-imagine motherhood?

CR: For me the tasks of motherhood are simple, repetitive, and life giving, just as the fiber processes in my studio are. By using discarded textiles and the ritual actions of the domestic arena—stacking, sorting, washing, pilling—I am honoring the homeward-oriented life.

The Leisure Suit Series was created during the first three years of my daughter’s life. They are not directly about motherhood but this series was a reflection of that drastic change. No longer could I make room sized installations but I could make lap sized works. During the precious naptime hours I would pick apart my polyester quilt and sew cloth.  

I like that phrase you used “re-imagine motherhood” but I feel uncomfortable about it for some reason. I don’t believe I am radically transforming anyone’s idea of being a mother or a maker. I simply want to evidence that you can be both. I want to honor these economies of care which I have lived in, mainly childrearing, as a vital seedbed for creative endeavors not a hindrance to a successful artistic career.

FD: Many of your pieces have been described as site-specific. How do you ground things in place?

CR: You must visit! You must walk around and see what intrigues you. I am particularly interested in integrating installations into liminal spaces within the architecture of a building, the sills, the corners of the wall, an open skylight, for example.

FD: How is your work embedded in the Midwest, and why do you see this project in Grinnell?

CR: Being born and raised in Iowa, I may be blind to the ways in which it is embedded.

Grinnell loves and supports art and artists. This small a mighty community has a unique spirit that I wanted to be a part of. I am thrilled that Bricks & Blocks was chosen for a Grin City Micro grant. Community members contribute their own money to funds projects chosen by the Grin City board. These projects in turn, enrich the community. What