Monday, July 29, 2013

Featured Artist Profile: Kathy Suprenant

Today I'm thrilled to be featuring the work of Kathy Suprenant.   When I first came across her work featuring chromosomes I was excited to find another scientist/quilter, and am always surprised by how many of us there are!   You can find her art online at her website

1. Who are you and where do you live?
 Lawrence, Kansas, has been my home for nearly thirty years.  I was born and raised in Hudson Falls, New York, and before moving to Lawrence I lived in Santa Barbara, California and Charlottesville, Virginia. 

I work at the University of Kansas where I teach cell biology at the undergraduate and graduate level (

2. Tell us a little bit about your artistic journey and how you got started?
 I decided to make a baby quilt for a friend.  When I got home I realized that I didn’t know how to make a quilt.  The very next day there was an advertisement in our local newspaper for a quilting class at a local fabric store.  What kind of quilt?  A baby-sized log cabin! Truly.  After several classes, I learned how to make many traditional-style quilts.  And then there were THE triangles, a shape that I never mastered and never wanted to master.  From that point onward I began to experiment with small art-like quilts.   
3. How do you describe your work?
My small quilts are simple in design, figural and graphic. I use commercial and a few hand-dyed fabrics.  Recently, I started using walnut-dyed fabric that I create in my backyard.  There are ten healthy black walnut trees in my yard that are prolific producers of large green walnuts.
Kathy Suprenant, Too Good to Eat
4. Do you have any favorite techniques or approaches?
 I often use freezer paper piecing for the background and hand-applique for the foreground.   All of my recently completed quilts are hand-quilted and occasionally beaded.

Kathy Suprenant, Protozoans

 5. What do you want to communicate with your work?
I try to combine my conceptualization of cell structure and function with the traditions of quilting and surface design. My goal is to create a unique set of shapes and symbols that CELL-ebrate the exquisite organization and behavior of living cells, and their repeating patterns of growth and death.

Kathy Suprenant, Chromosomes and a Door

6. What methods, or lifestyle tips, or time management tips do you find helpful to producing work?
It has taken years and many boxes of unfinished work to focus on finishing a single piece.  For me, it is more efficient to work on one quilt at a time from start to finish.  I may not make another quilt for several months.  In the meantime, I keep a sketchbook to record any new ideas.

7. What kind of studio/workspace do you have and what features of your surroundings are most helpful for your productivity/work?
I work in a spare bedroom where I installed a large overhead color-corrected fluorescent light.  Everything I need is in this room, including a computer and printer, a large mobile folding table, a drawing table, fabric and other supplies, and a comfortable chair from which I can watch television while I quilt, or just watch television. 

Kathy Suprenant, Butterfly Weed

8. Which artists, other individuals or subjects currently inspire you?
I am very fond of Judith Martin’s website and blog.  Judith is a Canadian textile artist who gathers much of her inspiration from her home on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada.

In addition, I am inspired by the many nationally recognized quilt artists and historians in Lawrence, Kansas.  These include, but are not limited to, Barbara Brackman, Marla Arna Jackson, Chris Wolf Edmonds, and Mary Anne Jordan.

Thanks so much to Kathy for sharing her fabulous work, and check out her website for more information!

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