Spotlight – Larkin Jean Van Horn

I discovered the quilting art Pinterest. My readers who know already what I like can imagine why I was so drawn to her work: excessive free motion machine quilting and excessive beading. And so I did what I usually do when I am enchanted by an art quilt: I googled her name, looked at more of her work (Thank you Larkin for close up photo’s on your website! you know what your viewers really want to see!) and send her an email asking for permission to write a spotlight post about her and show photo’s of her work.

Celtic Spiral VII – 9 x 11½

Larkin Jean Van Horn is a mixed-media textile artist working in the areas of art quilts, beadwork, wearable art and glass art since the mid-1980 living in Whidbey Island in Washington.
Larkin says she’s been making things with her hands for as long as she could remember.  It didn’t really get named “art” until she was in her mid-30s and a great-Aunt looked carefully at a piece she was working on, looked her straight in the eye, and said “My dear, you are an artist.” suddenly, she added, she wasn’t just making things to stay busy – she was making things that meant something.
She was surprised to find herself teaching in 1992, but found she loved the challenge and excitement of the classroom. She also published books on beadwork, and patterns for wearable art garments and fabric vessels. Her work has been displayed and won honors both regionally and nationally.

Bursting with Energy

Her work represents the combination of her imagination, inspiration from the world around her, and her strong sense of drama.
the variety of textures found on the island inspires here — the waves and tidelines, wind-bent trees, strata and fissures in the rocks on the seashore and also the inner landscape of emotions, spirit, and self. It was all about texture and that is why she works with fabric, fiber, beads, and found objects.

According to Larkin, she uses a lot of feminine symbolism in her work. The lines are curved and sinuous rather than straight and angular. The colors are deep, rich, and lushly blended rather than starkly contrasting.

“Without being sweet and girly, I think my art is womanly and thoughtful. In a way, I am looking for a God I, as a woman, can identify with. And in my art-making, I find Her.”

~Larkin Jean van Horn, interview for abbey of the arts
Just a Stone’s Throw

Working process
Larkin calls her creating process  “clearing a path”. After finishing an art piece her creative space looks quite messy, piles of fabrics are everywhere, stuff on the floor and underfoot and total chaos so when it is time to start a new piece again she first spend some time folding fabric, putting things back in their places, unburdening the horizontal surfaces, and letting her mind wander where it will as she  prepare to begin (and oh how that sounds  familiar…) She admits she almost always enter without a clear vision of what will be made, and this process of “clearing a path” gives her a chance to let the materials spark an idea or topic or problem to be worked out.

“Art making is my spiritual practice. Others may read theological tomes, meditate, garden, walk and pray – I go into my studio and start moving things around”

~Larkin Jean van Horn, interview for abbey of the arts

Further reading:
Larkin’s website
Larkin’s blog – Bemused, Boggled, and Bedazzled
books bij Larkin Jean van Horn
follow Larkin on pinterest
Interview for abbey of the arts

Emerging IX: Rise Above It All

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