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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Contemporary Fiber and Wearable Art

Miuccia Prada said, "What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language." Artist Laurie Fagen of Fagen Designs is an award-winning, multi-media fiber artist who designs contemporary fiber art and wearable art. Along with her fiber pieces, she also creates jewelry from fine silver and polymer clay as statement pieces for your favorite outfits.

Laurie's story began on a sheep farm in Earlham, Iowa, a small town outside Des Moines. Growing up on the prairies of middle America, she loved creating items from various fabrics and threads she found on hand. A problem-solver by nature, Laurie's imagination kicked into high gear as she became a master in transforming unused or unwanted fabric items into new and unusual wearable, usable art pieces. Laurie's mom Lani, a quilter and weaver, was always available to provide technical suggestions and support.

Laurie left Iowa to attend Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, to complete her Bachelor of Science in Radio & Television. During this time, Laurie worked for KTAR News radio in Phoenix, providing live traffic reports from a single-engine aircraft above the city. After graduation, Laurie worked as an assistant producer with local talk show host Preston Westmoreland, booking guests for his show and continuing Valley traffic reports.

“I was soon hooked on making about anything I could imagine from polymer and metal clay; this was the start of my next business Fagen Designs.

Eventually, television beckoned Laurie, and she returned to Iowa after accepting a position as a reporter/photographer for KWWL-TV, an NBC affiliate in Waterloo. Initially, her assignment covered the action at the state capital; later, she was assigned to the crime beat, covering the Waterloo Police Department, Black Hawk County Sheriff's Department, and Courts. It was only a short time before Laurie snatched an opportunity to return to the Valley of the Sun to work in the Public Information Office for the City of Phoenix. The move provided Laurie with the opportunity to expand her work in video production.

However, there is a life after the television news. Laurie started her first business, Word Painting, as a writer and producer for corporate video. The result was a 13-year career in marketing, sales, training, and informational video programming for businesses. During this time, Laurie decided to become a mom; this required a break from a hectic professional life. The story goes, "I needed something to do while I was a stay-at-home mom with my son Devon. I discovered my passion for fabrics and threads. I joined a traditional hand-quilting and hand-piecing group. Eventually, I found an art quilt group and knew I was home." What spoke to Laurie was her ability to create her designs and use various surface designs to personalize quilts for commission work.

The quilting led Laurie to use polymer clay to embellish her art quilts. “I was soon hooked on making about anything I could imagine from polymer and metal clay; this was the start of my next business Fagen Designs. The business took off and supported my addiction to fabric and thread.” Laurie credits fiber artists Yvonne Porcella, Harriett Hargrave, and Libby Lehman for guiding her through the landscape of fiber and art quilting and Christi Friesen and Lisa Pavelka for introducing her to a variety of techniques in the realm of polymer clay and jewelry design. Artist Laurie Fagen works from her home studio in Chandler, Arizona. She continues to push the limits on her mixed media fabric and fiber designs as she incorporates her background in photography, digital transfer, thread painting, and polymer clays into spectacularly bold contemporary designs. Her exhibitions include the Shemer Art Center in Phoenix, the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, the Herberger Theater, and the Phoenix Library's Ironwood Branch, Children's section, to name a few. Laurie is a member of the Sonoran Arts League, Maverick Art Quilters, Arizona Quilters Guild, and San Diego Polymer Clay Guild.


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