Thesis exhibition on display at Hillestad Gallery

"Twenty-seven years in the Cambium." Book cover of walnut-stained handmade gampi paper and tea-stained drawings.
"Twenty-seven years in the Cambium." Book cover of walnut-stained handmade gampi paper and tea-stained drawings.

Textiles, clothing and design graduate student Katie Taylor Frisch's Option II thesis exhibition, "I've been here before, I remember that tree," is on display through Nov. 19 in the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery.

Using personal journal entries as the starting point for each piece, Frisch's forest installation is an accumulation of experience and emotion in fiber form. Serving as a library of the journals she has kept throughout 2010, this forest is a display of the documentation she has maintained of a journey, thoughts in both patterned and written form. With the tree as a monument to memory and metaphor of identity, these works in handmade paper and nuno felted silk explore journaling as an act of reflection and creation.

Frisch references Ralph Metzner in his book, "The Unfolding Self" (1998), to explain the connection between the tree and the individual. The trees reference experience metaphorically in attaching history to roots, potential to seeds, as well as literally, in remembering the events that happened in close proximity to certain trees.

Much of Frisch's work revolves around identity, specifically identity as an artist. In her work, she explores the creative process itself - the role of bad ideas, trust of vision, insecurity, discipline, response to materials, etc. This is one reason journaling is so prominent in the work - it serves as a record of understanding the places she's been and the progression of personal identity.

"I like that paper and felt act as co-creators with me," Frisch said. "I can make decisions about much of what I want to occur, but ultimately the materials themselves will do what is in their nature to do. It is a good reminder that I am not always the one in control - constantly I need reminded to let go of what I think needs to happen.

"I appreciate the independence of paper and felt - these non-woven textiles become fabric simply by their own properties. Outside forces compress paper fibers or agitate wool fibers together, but the fusion comes by nature of their physical structures. Because of this I also like to work with other natural elements, things already created to remind me of how small I really am. Trees are a common theme for me because of their monumental nature - their size commands importance and respect and evokes memory. I have several trees I can walk by and instantly be transported back to a relevant time in my life. These trees serve as landmarks to remind me of familiar territory."

The Hillestad Gallery is part of the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design in the College of Education and Human Sciences. The gallery is on the second floor of the Home Economics Building. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and by appointment. Admission is free. For more information, go to or call 472-6370.

- Wendy Weiss, Textiles, Clothing and Design