It's in our nature.

I've been thinking about dysfunction. Siblings, political parties, major corporations, government, non-profit agencies — they all experience a little wrack and ruin over time. Personality conflicts, power grabs, bullying, and just plain incompetence can splinter the foundation of any assemblage.

It's in our nature.

So how do we face and focus on mending? It's clear we all need the balm of empathy. We need to find common ground to forge compromise and progress.

Haywire, Paula Kovarik, 2017

We need to clear the air and listen. Speak truth to power and allow for differences.

Ladder to Elsewhere, Paula Kovarik, 2017

I say we act like crabgrass. Move with energy into the cracks. Sew up the middles so that the edges have a base to grow on.

Rough layout for Crabgrass, Paula Kovarik

Still looking

These tiles had one thing in common. Black thread on a neutral background.

I'm still thinking about how patterns emerge. And how our brains look for unifying elements to make sense of chaos. Quilts use repeat modules to create a whole from fragments. So, if I brought disparate elements together could I create a whole? Here's a few base thoughts:

  1. Regularity unifies.
  2. Grids are glue.
  3. Lines travel and connect.
  4. Connection = comprehension

So I took a few of the sample thread studies I have laying around and cut them into 2" squares. Assembling them randomly on a background substrate created a tile-like pattern that I emphasized with a grid that holds them together.

Then I started looking for connections. These small tiles really have little in common— just some black thread on neutral fabric. My eyes seemed to bounce around the assemblage, hip hopping to find similarities. So I added a line mimicking the hip-hop journey my eyes were taking. 

Adding denser fill stitching at the intersections of the connecting line and patterned tile added a sense of rhythm to the piece.

Adding hand-stitched details adds action and brings the tiles together in small areas.

Then I turned the piece to the back to see what was happening with my random connections.

The picture on the left is the front of the assemblage. The one on the right shows the stitching I added to the piece. I love the raw quality of those marks. And, I had no idea that I had formed a face in profile when I was working from the front.

Here's another comparison. The left side is dense with stitching and linework that is beginning to represent my idea of complexity and chaos. The back shows a simpler yet texturally consistent stitching that appeals to me. There's a sense of space on that side that brings more focus on the character of the lines.

I'm not sure how much farther I want to take this piece. I love the complexity that is beginning to show up with the layered stitching. And I like the back of the piece. I'll have to study it a while.


Looking for the pattern that connects

Moving through a shattering period of tenuous health concerns and re-defining what is important in life, I was frozen in my work.

So I grabbed a bunch of scraps and started putting them together. That process gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day regardless of outcome.

My thoughts were on how disruption forces contemplation. How pieces have to be sorted and put back together. How mending provides silence for thought.

Someday I'd like to do an installation of all the scraps I have in this studio. They tell so many stories about the effort and work.

Someday I'd like to do an installation of all the scraps I have in this studio. They tell so many stories about the effort and work.

As I was putting together random scraps of fabric they were added to my design wall in a rough estimation of a body. I wanted to create a figure filled with anxiety, confusion and isolation. Lonely—moving toward an uncertain horizon.

The piece morphed many times.

At one point it was so tall I had to extend my table.

Loved the action of this one but didn't like the way the figures interacted. Negative space is clunky.

I am always tempted by the backs of these assemblages. I am certain that I will end up turning one of them around in the future.

This solitary figure started my brain working toward a story.

The figure morphed into a tipsy unbalanced figure being watched by a secondary figure.

Experimenting with background and foreground. Still too disparate right to left. The figure disappeared.

The final composition prior to beginning the stitching had a flow to it that leads my eye around the piece.

The resulting composition gave me a number of opportunities for thread stories. Movement, itchiness, hidden messages. Playing with the tension on my thread and using a black thread on top with a variegated thread below gave medotted line that comes in and out of focus.

I see the figure as a witness to the chaos, looking for the pattern that connects.

Below are some of the details.

Almost done. Looking for the pattern that connects. Paula Kovarik 2017

A little day trip

I attended the 59th Annual Delta Exhibition in Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday. This exhibition showcases contemporary artists from Arkansas and bordering states.

And now for the drum roll....

I was chosen for one of the Delta Awards by juror Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

I was chosen for one of the Delta Awards by juror Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Bradley spoke of the sense of place in the Delta and the natural power of the Delta landscapes as well as the tension that artists portray in their work between what is familiar and what is new. Here's part of her juror's statement: "As much as I found some artists savoring the details of their worlds, I was truly struck by others whose works evidenced a great unease, eerie expressions of a world slipping into an abyss, emanating tones of fear, anger, and anxiety."

Prior to announcing the award winners she showed a curious collection of historical paintings depicting women creating art using fiber and clay. The fact that she chose (blindly) three women artists who are working in fiber, porcelain and metal was particularly exciting for those of us who work on the edges of paintings.

Delta Exhibition crowd

It was standing room only at the opening celebrations. Music blaring, the catfish, hushpuppies, wines and pies tempted us. What I could see of the artwork over and through the heads of the crowd was spectacular. I'll have to find a way to get back to the museum to see the works in a more concentrated way. In particular I loved the work of David Bailin. His piece, Halloween, took my breath away. I wish I had taken a picture of it but there were always crowds obstructing my view. Here's a link to his website: Halloween. He uses, charcoal, pastels and coffee to create haunting works about his father.

My piece was toward the back under a spotlight with a deep gray wall behind it. Very dramatic.

My favorite part of any show is watching people studying my piece. Some shared their thoughts about the work and even saw things in it that were unintentional on my part. I love that part of art. It has its own life. It walks its own path. I am a conduit for other's visions.

That tiny blip of understanding

We may not be immortal. Life is fast, challenging and unpredictable.

My husband is undergoing treatment for a (curable) cancer.


You know that feeling of your mind going blank? White out. Black out. Everything fuzzy gray? Can't remember your name? I'm there -- blank, buzzing, and slow-witted. The blank is that blip. blip. blip. of realizing that we may not be immortal. The buzz from anxiety. Slow-witted because changing our daily focus to include radiation is a gruesome choice. One we did not want to make.

My husband is undergoing treatment for a (curable) cancer.