Local artist Karen Brodie stands in front of one of her fabric creations which will be on display at the Art Gallery of Golden.

Fabric art renderings of nature will fill the Art Gallery of Golden

Golden’s own Karen Brodie will be showcasing her works of art in the upcoming Art Gallery of Golden exhibit, Up Close.

Golden’s own Karen Brodie will be showcasing her works of art in the upcoming Art Gallery of Golden exhibit, Up Close.

Karen Brodie has been creating fabric art for 23 years.  Beginning in Vancouver, B.C., and now from her studio in Golden. She has built up a large portfolio of liturgical art which has been her main focus of work as she has been commissioned by churches across North America and beyond. This work includes banners, altar sets and clergy stoles.

“I don’t know if I so much as chose this medium of fabric as it chose me. My mother’s family and her ancestors were all good at sewing and upholstery so my early childhood passion for sewing just about anything was supported and nourished,” said Brodie.

She completed a diploma in Fashion Design,  and worked as a seamstress in a children’s clothing factory before striking out on her own at 21, and starting Karen Brodie Designs. This included dressmaking, custom sewing, and a gift line with items like cloth napkins and gift bags.

She has come a long way in her artistic career, and has some accolades to show for it. She received an award in 2005 for an alter set by Ministry and Liturgy magazine, and was commissioned by Golden Secondary School in 2011 to create 14 permanent wall banners.

“This was a great project and reinforced my desire to create art for a wider audience including nature,” she said.

Now for the first time, Brodie has created a body of work for exhibition and sale.  The work consists of eight large pieces of fabric art with a focus on nature up close, thus the title Up Close.   The largest is 6’x4‘and the smallest is 3’x3’.   It is vibrant, textured, and contemporary.

“One year ago, in fall of 2013, when I was without commissions I happily began to create more art towards a body of art for exhibition. I was able to create six more pieces over the past year,” she said. “They are large and will fill the gallery space with vibrant colour blocking, close-up lines, shapes and textures of the every day nature we in the Rockies get to enjoy all the time, but often overlook.”

She makes it sound easy, but creating fabric art is a long and arduous process. She starts with drawing a design, often from a photo she has taken out in nature. Then she adds colour to represent the various fabric colours, and then makes that pattern to scale.

“I then undertake the timely process of choosing solid colour fabrics from my fabric library, or try to shop (outside of Golden, sadly) for more if I can’t get exactly what I envisaged,” said Brodie. “Once my palette of fabrics is complete, I fuse (iron) each piece of Wonder Under (a paper / fusible web transfer) to its corresponding fabric, and cut them out. Then I attach all pieces onto a backing fabric, and appliqué them all on with machine stitching.”

Although Brodie describes the process as completely frustrating at times, including “moments of complete terror at trying to translate what is in one’s heat to one-dimensional fabric,” she perseveres, and something she could not have foreseen comes out of it.

There will be an opening night artist’s reception at the art gallery on Friday Oct. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.