Hand Spun – An Interview With Textile Artist Kelsey Leib


Kelsey Leib is an Oakland based artist whose work captures the curiosity of various weaving materials, shapes, and expression all in one form. Creating at Percolator Workspace studio helps her bring new life to materials typically associated with comfort and spirit.

Would you like to introduce yourself?
Kelsey Leib: I am a sculptural textiles artist from Cleveland, Ohio.

Where are you from originally?
I grew up in the western suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, and studied textiles at Kent State University.

What is it that you create, with what medium?
I concentrate on creating vessel forms, representing the human figure as a vessel for the spirit. This year, I began expanding the size of the vessel and knit a “house,” so that the viewer could enter and fully experience the interior space. I knit, weave, felt, and utilize basketry techniques to create these forms. I typically combine traditional materials, yarn and fiber, with alternatives, including metals and fishing line. I’m interested in the themes of repetition and gender, that inevitably come up when using textiles as a medium.


How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been making and showing my art for about six years.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?
My “Spirit Vessels” are intended to imply the sacred quality of being human. They reveal hidden sides of people, humanizing them. Using the vessel form allows me to compare and contrast an interior and exterior. Some pieces are opaque, requiring the viewer to make an effort to peer inside to catch a glimpse of its inner workings. Others are transparent, its details announced loud and clear.

How did you discover Percolator?
I initially discovered Percolator on Craigslist.

How long have you been working at Percolator?
A little over two years. I was Percolator’s first renter! When I moved in, it looked like an unfinished basement. Tad has completely transformed the space into working studios.


Is there an artist(s) who you admire or inspires you?
I am constantly amazed at the work of Joanna Berzowska for her fusion of science, conceptual art, and textiles. Her works at XS Labs are textiles with minds of their own, they move and breath independently.

I’m drawn to Petah Coyne’s work because of her aesthetic, her references to literature, and her frequent theme of repetition, a concept inevitable in textiles. Right now I’m working on some quilted pieces based off of narratives, and I’ve been thinking about “Everything That Rises Must Converge.”

Nick Cave and Walter Oltmann for their use of the figure and the spiritual feeling in their work. The Brooklyn Museum recent had a really fantastic show called Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, featuring many of them. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/disguise_masks_global_african_art

April Dauscha’s uses lace work and the body in really interesting ways. http://aprildauscha.com/home.html

Oakland has become a mecca for artist, what brought you to the city in particular? I moved to the Bay area a little unexpectedly, after graduating college, going on a vacation along the West coast, and choosing to stay. I felt uncertain about Oakland until the night I moved in, when I ran into a friend of a friend who happened to be getting rid of a loom. One week later I found Percolator to house my loom. After that, I just felt like Oakland was home. Oakland is full of creative, interesting people.

Where do you see the future of art and the role of the artist? I hope to see the art world constantly expanding and opening up to new media and ideas. My degree fell under “Crafts,” which was considered separate from a fine art degree. I hope the future of art is a broader definition, merging with other subjects.


Statement about Kelesy’s residency work at Second Sight Studio (picture above), using found objects, hand spun wool, and headlines from local newspapers:

“Our visiting artist Kelsey Leib observed some striking similarities between Franklinton and her home neighborhood in Oakland, California. Inspired by the experience, she created this symmetrical wool on wood installation “A Space to Unify,” in which one neighborhood mirrors the other. “From the outsider’s perspective, areas with strong reputations for crime and violence, including Franklinton and Oakland, are in danger of being perceived only through headlines and sensationalized stories. News reports spelled out with wool, a material typically associated with warmth and the home, question our tendencies toward segregation and notions of comfort amongst different neighborhoods. What should define Franklinton?”

Info: https://www.facebook.com/SecondSightSecondSiteStudio/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1361002633915451

Keep up with Kelseys art on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sculpturaltextiles/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kleib22/

Thank you Kelsey!

Interviewed By Kadesh Carter

Originally published at www.percolator.ws on August 30, 2016.



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