Monday, July 11, 2011

Artist Spotlight part 1: Christine Hager-Braun

I'd like to introduce you to another one of my favorite textile artists. Christine Hager-Braun. I've long enjoyed her work but a few months ago I saw some new pieces hanging in a gallery that simply blew me away. Thought I'd share them with you.

Lyric: How did you become an artist, what is your background?

More Than Just the Sum: Northern Red Oak
18.5" x 24.5"

Christine: When I was a child my grandmother taught me to crochet, all sorts of embroidery and needlework techniques and to sew on a treadle sewing machine. However, I was only exposed to quilting after I moved to the US in 1999. In the Summer of 2002, I made my first quilt following a pattern from a book. It was a lapquilt, machine-pieced and free-motion quilted, for my grandmother on the occasion of her 87th birthday. This piece was a valuable lesson for me in order to realize that I did not enjoy making repetitive blocks.

My next quilt was already based on my own ideas. Feeling comfortable with straight seams, I assembled the center from 400 little squares. Over the years my skills developed: curved seams were added, strict geometric patterns were supplemented with free-form cuts. Besides having a stash of commercially available fabrics I started dyeing and painting my own fabrics. I truly enjoy the characteristics of fabric such as colors and malleability so fabric became my medium of choice.

More Than Just The Sum: Post Oak
18.5" x 24.5"
L: I know that you were a scientist before you chose to dedicate yourself to your artwork. Why did you decide to quit that job and spend more time with art?

Christine: I worked as a scientist in the field of HIV research. Amongst those people infected with HIV, only very few develop specific, so-called neutralizing, antibodies which fight the virus and prevent the individual from developing AIDS. I characterized some of these neutralizing antibodies hoping that the insights would contribute to the ultimate goal of the research community to develop a vaccine against HIV. But over the years I became frustrated because I felt we would always be a step behind. My hobby of art quilting helped me to remain balanced as it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Eventually, creating art became an essential aspect of my life, important enough to give up my job in the lab. In addition, having a studio in my house allowed me to spend more time with my son who started kindergarten at that time. Although being a professional artist requires discipline and dedicated hours in the studio, I enjoyed – and still enjoy – that I can be more involved in my child’s education and well-being.

L: What inspires and informs your current work?
More Than Just The Sum: Northern White Oak
18.5" x 24.5"
Christine: My background in biological sciences and simply life around me is the inspiration for my work.
Thematically, my current work focuses on interactions: Interactions on a microscopic level between cells or microorganisms, but also interactions between humans on an individual basis or in communities. My latest work, a series entitled “More Than Just the Sum” was inspired by images of microscopic slides prepared from wood slices. Individual cells form tissue samples with specific functions, and although various tissues are visually and functionally different, they interact and form one organism, namely a majestic tree. 

Sketch-a-Day 11

The tool bucket at the orthodontist had much the same structure
as the echinacea in my flower beds.