Artist, Creatrix, Teacher
I grew up in Charleston, SC, in a home filled with hand-crafted items. Whether it was a table cloth my grandmother crocheted or holiday decorations my mother crafted, I was fortunate to be surrounded by items intended to comfort and inspire. I still treasure these heirlooms (including my grandmother’s button box, where I first learned my love of color, shape and texture).
I have had no formal training in any kind of art. I have always delighted in working with my hands, whether coloring with crayons as a young child (remember how Crayolas smell?), making pasta necklaces in kindergarten (remember those?), or – eventually – sewing my own clothes (everything from school clothes to formals). My mother taught me to embroider, knit, crochet and sew before I entered the ninth grade.
Additionally, I have always cherished reading. When I was very young, I would read labels on cans (I still do!) then graduated to pouring through books ranging from Little Women to the natural world. And I would eagerly take our dog Gomer for long walks – just him and me – where we could explore nearby undeveloped land, marshes, creeks, and wildlife. Now more than ever, I treasure being in and being inspired by Nature.
I also enjoyed school. To this day, I thank my sixth grade English teacher Mrs. Gilliam (who we called “Kill ‘em Gilliam”) for teaching me the grammar that would serve me well through my life. I first learned the love of art, however, when I meticulously drew the various systems of the body to go along with projects and reports for Mrs. Day’s sixth grade Science class. (The sixth grade was a big year for me!)
I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English Education. I taught high school English and French for a year, however teaching has always been a part of what I have done since then, whether training other professionals in Desktop Publishing or elementary students about our natural world or adult women in creating from their depths. I have spent much of my career in higher education administration as well as in managing non-profit organizations that focus on building stronger community and promoting positive change.
My husband and I moved from Charleston to the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where there are four seasons and beautiful, verdant surroundings:
These green mountains! Here,
Nature gathered the Earth’s folds
to pillow her head.
– KCS, 1992
Now it’s my turn to create beautiful things intended to comfort and inspire. I have been creating beaded jewelry for over 20 years (if you don’t count those plastic lanyards woven in summer camp).
I am especially passionate about “recycling” or “upcycling” antique or vintage items into other uses. My heart flutters and my spirit soars when I see an item used well for a totally new purpose! Being able to incorporate natural items into my art is also exciting to me.
Thanks to all those fiber skills I learned, I have created fabric dolls which I call “Earth Sisters”. Each doll represents an aspect of Nature, whether it is a season, a holyday, an animal totem, etc. I have taken classes from Akira Blount, Caty Carlin, DeeDee Triplett, and Victoria Blue Lightning Snake. All of these classes deepened my love of creating and my appreciation of hand-made dolls as vessels of Spirit.
In my love of combining texture and color, I also created “Fabric and Fibers and Beads, Oh My!” art scarves. Another delightful venture was creating “Goddess Garb: Wearable Art for Divine Women (and that includes all of us!)”. I crafted Goddess Garb by adorning and reconfiguring gently-loved clothing into striking and one-of-a-kind wearable art.
While I had made paper for several years (it’s like playing in your oatmeal; try it!), I took my first paper arts class in 2001. I was immediately infatuated! My love affair began with simple greeting cards, rubber stamps, and cool paper folds. It has since expanded into bookbinding, including fatbooks, altered books, one-of-a-kind artist books, and unique journals and photo albums. I have been fortunate to take classes from talented instructors including Dan Essig, Nina Bagley, LK Ludwig, Savannah Canfield, and Joyce Sievers, to name a few. I am also honored to have taught at the John C. Campbell Folk School in their Book Arts program.
Regardless of the medium, I am addicted to the creative process. I know this is a direct connection to Spirit, and I feel awed and blessed to have this experience. When I finish an especially absorbing project, I am amazed at what I have created – with help from the Unseen.
When one begins to dive into the creative process, it is just a matter of time before that process overflows from one medium into another. I am captivated by swimming in those warm, supportive waters! I hope you will join me in the adventure!