by Susan Cohen
Fiber artist Kristy Bishop will present her first show as North Charleston’s artist-in-residence, Wash Over You, starting on Jan. 2.
When Bishop studied studio art the College of Charleston, her focus was on painting. It wasn’t until 2010 that she embraced fiber arts instead. Typically, she hand dyes silk fabric, which she cuts into small pieces and sews together for her completed works. Bishop uses the color gradients in her work convey the emotional force of the work.
Bishop explains that the show's title references how a rush of emotion can hit a person’s entire body, like a wave. “Sometimes you may or may not know exactly what you are feeling and I think that is why I like to illustrate it through these colors and transitions,” she says.
Each piece in Wash Over You has been left untitled, because Bishop likes to hear what other people take away from a piece. “Sometimes it is similar to what I was feeling or intended,” she says, “and sometimes it is something that totally takes me by surprise.”
For this particular show, she’s been experimenting with natural dyes. One piece in particular combines dye colors that come from sources like yellow and red onion skins, rosemary, sweet gum leaves, avocado skins, and pine tree bark. The result is “fleshy” in color. “It’s hard for me so say exactly what emotion I was feeling with that piece, but what I can say is that it was an outlet for me to connect myself with natural materials,” Bishop says. “Maybe it is a desire to be less distracted by modern day things and to be more observant of what is around me.” That particular piece has inspired her to experiment more with local plants to see what kind of dyes she can create.
Depending on its size, it can take Bishop two weeks to three months to finish a single piece (keeping in mind both her residency and her day job). “This last one with natural dyes took longer just for the fact that I have to gather and boil plant material for an hour to two hours,” she adds.
This is Bishop’s first show for the city since she became its artist-in-residence. She tells us that the residency has been going great so far. She’s been doing a mix of projects that include fabric dyeing with shibori (japanese bind and resist dyeing technique), printmaking, and eco printing with leaves. “On average I have been going to two schools a month and also the Carolina Youth Development Center twice a month,” she says. “I try to do projects with the kids that aren’t necessarily drawing based just because I want them to see that even if they are not the best drawers they can still be creative. The shibori is a great project because almost every kid has a really nice finished product.”
Wash Over You will have an opening reception at the North Charleston City Gallery on Jan. 3 from 5-7 p.m. The show runs through Jan. 31.