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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Weaving Across the Globe

“Get to know the feel of the fiber with your fingertips. Allow its fidelity to flow through you. Be at one with the animals and the Earth that have given you this gift. A happy weaver makes a happy cloth.” Merida Johns, in the Flower Girl, a Novel. Artist Kristin Kelyer Mangum finds her inspiration in the arts, cultures, and Earth's natural beauty as an artist, art student, and educator. During Kristin's creative career, her quest for natural fibers has taken her around the globe into hundreds of indigenous cultures. Kristin’s continuous journey in search of local weaving techniques with the selected local fibers come together in her International Fiber Mixed Media Sculptures. Kristin’s creative foundations began in her childhood; she grew-up in Southern Illinois, just outside St. Louis, Missouri. The community was small, her family close, and exploring the beauty of the outdoors was part of everyday life. Kristin credits her family for her artistic foundation.

Early on, Kristin discovered the power of Nature in working with natural fibers. She says, "Helping my dad in the garden and my mom canning beets, I developed an appreciation for the variety of items available in the natural world." Kristin states, “When my sister and I would help my mom can beets, we wouldn’t want to waste the strained beet juice. We would gather yarn, soak it in the beet juice and hang it outside on a line to dry. One particular day we broke twigs off the trees and wove the scarlet yarn into the most stunning Ojo de Dios (god’s eyes.)." Experiences like these initiated a lifelong creative journey into the world of natural fibers and weaving for Kristin. In addition to gardening and canning Kristin participated in her family's building, fixing, and art projects that formed the foundation for Kristin’s art education and career.

Kristin continued her Fine Art studies receiving a BFA in Studio Art and Marketing from McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. While working on her degree program, she realized she loved interacting with others, sharing her knowledge, and working with hands-on art projects and production. Kristin returned to McKendree to complete a K-12 Visual Arts Education Teaching Certification. She subsequently landed a two-year position with an inner-city public school teaching art. Sadly, as school budgets declined, the arts programs were eliminated. It was back to school again, this time for an MFA in Studio Art from Fontbonne University, St. Louis, Missouri, and a second MFA from Fontbonne University at the Centers International, Florence, Italy. Kristin's time abroad was a game changer; it inspired her development of her International Fiber Mixed Media Sculptures which she continues to create today.

"Each sculpture is made from natural materials, woven in natural form and contains elements solely from one country. The pieces can be displayed alone as a piece of the world or combined with other woven sculptures from a similar region."

Kristin has woven herself into her destiny in fiber art; since then, she has traveled to over 100 countries on all seven continents, creating and gathering as she goes. Each country offers unique inspiration, pure wool, cotton fibers, and precious Nature discoveries. She describes it as the ultimate treasure hunt. Each country offers unique natural aspects that find their way into the sculptures she creates representing each region. Kristin thinks of each country as a perfect individual studio, where she works along the way. Ultimately Kristin says. “It's all about texture, texture, texture and getting physically into the work of the weaving process.” She explains, “Each sculpture is made from natural materials, woven in natural form and contains elements solely from one country. The pieces can be displayed alone as a piece of the world or combined with other woven sculptures from a similar region." The elements of the Earth create a natural organic beauty in complimenting one another; each sculpture is “A Piece of the World.” Through the years, artist Kristin Kleyer Mangum has continued to refine her processes using the natural elements of the Earth through classes, workshops, and travel.

She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and skills with others as well. Kristin works with K-12 private, public, inner city, co-ed, and all girl's schools and not-for-profit organizations such as galleries and museums. Each day is a growing experience. She exhibits internationally, nationally, and locally winning numerous awards, recognitions, and certificates along the way. Artist Kristin Kelyer Mangum is a member of the ArtLink Phoenix, Arizona Artists Guild, and Sonoran Arts League. She participates in the group's Hidden in the Hills Artist Studio tour annually in November. Her work can also be seen at On the Edge Gallery in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills Artists Gallery in Fountain Hills, and The Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek, Arizona.


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