West Dean College is pleased to welcome Katie Schwab as its new Artist-in-Residence. Selected as part of last autumn’s Open Call, Katie will be spending three-weeks based in the Visual Arts department, working in close proximity to full-time students. Over the next few weeks Katie will give a talk about her practice and ongoing residency project to staff, students and alumni, as well as conducting one-to-one tutorials.
Katie’s practice interweaves personal, social and craft-based histories, often drawing from marginalised and overlooked traditions of making and working collectively. She creates installations of embroidered and woven textiles, ceramic tableware, furniture and videos, drawing on the bright colours, bold shapes and abstract forms of twentieth-century modern design. Katie has a longstanding interest in the textile works of female modernists and, drawing on the multiple roles these women undertook as artists, designers, writers and teachers, her work similarly moves fluidly between gallery, learning and domestic spaces. An interest in shared social space evolves both through her research and within the ways in which she goes about producing work. Her videos document domestic, communal and educational interiors, and she is intrigued by exploring working practices which take on different models of acquiring and sharing knowledge and skills. Spanning references to high design, DIY crafts, self-build projects, radical pedagogies, workshops and rehearsals, Katie is interested in exploring how different hands and voices can come together to respond to issues pertinent to our daily lives, especially around questions of housing, labour, gender, learning and public and private space.
In 2015 Katie undertook a short weekend tapestry weaving course at West Dean. This experience was hugely formative for the development of her practice, promoting a deep interest in the relationships between woven textiles and sites of craft education. Since 2015, her practice has continued to explore the politics of, and relationships between, art, craft, design and learning, with a particular research interest in histories of tapestry and ceramics education.
Katie’s residency proposal outlined her interest in developing a new body of work in a context intrinsically connected to these interests. Over the course of the three-weeks she explore the relationship between ceramic glazing and textiles dyeing, weaving and pattern-making. Splitting the time between research and production, she would engage with the professional weavers in the Tapestry Studio about their practices of dyeing, making cartoons for tapestry and working on long-term large-scale weaving projects.