The Colorful World of Natasha Kempers-Cullen

Natasha Kempers-Cullen is an artist whose work features her hand painted and printed fabric. These fabrics are cut and torn into pieces she incorporates into collage compositions which become art quilts and other works for the wall. Oftentimes, the quilts will have lots and lots of stitching, beading, and other embellishments. This artist loves color! Enhancements to works on canvas or board include treated papers and drawings with oil sticks. Beyond collaged paintings and art quilts, Natasha enjoys creating an eclectic mix of highly-embellished boxes made of wood or found objects, sketchbooks with paper collage, artist books and books with collaged covers, bead-strung jewelry, painted canvas bags and art pillows, and embellished spirit stones.

In creating her fabrics, Natasha will use printmaking, silk screening, stamping, rubbings, and inventive tools (often, other than “the brush”) to apply paint. This she does mainly “because it’s fun!” She describes her own work as “seriously playful” and enjoys her process, stating, “there are a lot of different parts to my process and, basically, I love each part.”

Natasha says:

My work is a continuous adventure. Working with fabric to create my art seems to be so natural to me: I don’t even question it. It is an extension of my being and the education that I received from the women in my family. Having developed a collage construction process, I can focus clearly on the concepts and the images that energize and inspire me. There are three themes that interact and appear in most of my work: a reverence for nature, positive human spirit, and the concept of house and home (the house or shrine shape that occurs in much of my work) as safety and love and strength.

Natasha is an accomplished art quilter, having exhibited work in many juried and invitational exhibitions, including Quilted Constructions: The Spirit of Design (Museum of American Folk Art in NYC), Quilt National, Quilt San Diego, Art Quilts: Playing with a Full Deck, and Women of Taste: Artists and Chefs Collaborative. She has also had work featured in a number of publications and books, including Robert Shaw’s THE ART QUILT and in the series 500 ART QUILTS. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, as well as in several additional private and public collections.

Having worked as an art teacher in public education for over 16 years, Natasha has taught throughout the US at many different quilters’ conferences and art schools, including at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. She was also an artist mentor at Spindleworks Art workshop in Brunswick, Maine, for many years. These days, she enjoys teaching from her home studio (topics such as making spirit stones, paper collage, painting on fabric, quilt composition, design), offering private lessons, and accepting private commissions.

She hosts an Open Studio on weekends twice per year, but is available by appointment for a visit on most days.

—Photography and text by Christine Macchi