The Queue: Kristy Kún
Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in the current issue of American Craft. We invite these inspiring individuals to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.
Kristy Kún is an Oregon-based fiber artist who, having studied engineering and after a career as a woodworker, has turned her focus to sculptural compositions in handmade felt. You can learn more about Kristy's process and see additional photos in her article "A Floating World." Her piece Measure of Attention is also featured on the cover of the Winter 2022 issue of American Craft!
How do you describe your work or practice?
I create dimensional and sculptural works of handmade felt. The process is incredibly tedious, rubbing and kneading wool fibers in warm soapy water until they bond tightly. At the stage of near completion, the work is sculpted into its final form—forms inspired by relationships and evolution in nature and the fluidity of the materials themselves. Preceding the pandemic, I presented my work mostly through juried craft shows and traveled internationally teaching my techniques.
The past 18 months have presented many challenges, from a global pandemic to renewed urgency around issues of racial equity and police brutality. As we slowly move into a post-pandemic world, how are you finding beauty and staying grounded?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I moved from Portland to a small town in southern Oregon. It is a place where I can focus on work and put energy into the land. I have time and space here to be still and watch nature blossom and decay. This has been incredibly healing and provided focus during a time of so much grief and unknown.
The theme of the current issue of American Craft is "Wonder." Can you reflect on that theme as it relates to your work and practice?
I experience wonder through endless possibilities of tangling wool fibers into and around other materials during felting. This fulfills a craving to engineer and experiment with tactile relationships, but lately I’m curious about extending these material connections to human relationships. With this focus, I’m working on a piece that impacts real people more directly through a project with the Maryhill Museum and their Exquisite Gorge Project II.
What’s one of your go-to/favorite tools in your toolkit that the world should know about?
My most powerful tool right now is asking for help rather than doing everything alone. It is new to me, but I’m learning that by bringing people in to assist in the studio, everyone benefits. Not only am I relieved of much physical and emotional stress, but the studio is also filled camaraderie and the joy of laughter. After working solo for many years, I couldn’t be more surprised and pleased with how successful this is.
What’s your favorite social media post you’ve seen recently, and why?
My daughter and I are always exchanging posts and accounts we are inspired by. She shared a post from @art21 recently featuring her installation class instructor, Judy Pfaff (@judy.pfaff). I love Judy’s calm tone, her physical connection to the work and careful torching of fabrics. Most people don’t know that I torch my completed felt. Not to burn through, like Judy. Because wool is self-extinguishing, I can singe wayward fibers on the surface for a clean finish.
If you could purchase any craft artist's work for your home or studio, whose would it be?
I’m definitely drawn to functional right now and have had my eyes on an AudreyModern satchel since meeting her last year at Art in the Pearl. They are exquisitely crafted of leather and wool felt (of which I am an obvious fan!) and the colors are brilliant. @audreymodern
Inspired by the people featured in The Queue?
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