Taylor Painter Wolfe
Sewing into Fine Art
Taylor Painter Wolfe, learning how to sew and knit at a young age, used the skills she learned from her mom and turned them into a lifelong journey of fine art. “My mom taught me how to sew and knit. I made a lot of dishtowels and scarves as a young girl. So when I realized that you could turn the skill of sewing/knitting into fine art, that was very appealing to me.
Studying at the Kansas City Art Institute, she remembers the first time she toured the fiber department and thought, “this is where I need to be for sure.” Since then, she has been creating art with fibers ever since, never wanting to use any other materials.
Her medium is Fiber Art, she uses felted wool as her chosen material, and she refers to her pieces as abstract landscapes.
Felting goes way back to Mongolia. Taylor explains, “They would take Yak wool, agitate it- supposedly
with pee- and place it on top of their yurts.” Looking into the history of felting, it served many functional uses in different cultures and beautiful art forms in many Scandinavian countries and the far east like Nepal, Bhutan, and India.
What Taylor does here in Tulsa is unique; she seems to be the only artist in town creating fiber art like this.
Her process is not simple, yet her work exudes a complex simplicity. Her multi-dimensional pieces hold bold, vibrant colors, sharp lines, and familiar abstract images akin to a mosaic.
She starts with an image. She often works with satellite images, ariel photography as well as photographs of nature. Then, she turns it into an abstract image and renders a drawing from it. Once she has chosen the composition and color choices, she creates her canvas, a large piece of white felt.
Taylor starts with 4-5 layers of loose wool and pulls them apart. She explains how wool turns to felt with hot water and agitation, so to create her felt, she rolls up the wool and throws it in the washing machine. This makes a solid piece of felt. This is just the beginning. From here, she starts to paint. Her paints are in the form of hand-dyed felt.
She starts to fill in with color by projecting the image onto the stretched felt. The dying process is also a complex one that is often done outside. Using acid dye, a power dye that creates vibrant colors, she often “paints” with over 30 different colors. She explains the danger of loving colorful images: “I have over 150 different colored pencils to choose from. I always want to use lots of colors, but I often forget that now I have to dye all of these colors one by one. That is the fun part; I enjoy the dyeing process.”
Once the canvas and the paints are created, she begins to sew. Using a long-arm quilting machine, she moves the machine around the fabric, making the shapes and images on her canvas.
Being a new mom to a 3-year-old daughter, juggling art and motherhood is something many of us mothers understand. Some pieces she creates quickly, often turning scraps from larger pieces into smaller bodies of work, but some, like the one hanging in the Vast bank building, took her about 6 months.
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Exhibit at Vast Bank
Taylor is part of a grant from Living Arts called Tulsa Creates. When accepted, this challenged her to create the most extensive piece she has ever made, The Magic City, 80in X 74in.
Part of the Tulsa Creates program is about placing art from local artists in significant places around town. Taylor had her eye on the Vast bank downtown lobby, with its spacious entrance, giant walls, bright sunlight, and monochromatic colors. Luckily, it worked out for her to hang her art there until the end of the month. As a result, her pieces light up the space, and many have purchased her art displayed on the walls.
Purchase her art
Though she focuses on fine art pieces, I asked if she still uses her sewing skills to make scarves. The answer was yes. Some of her wearable art can be purchased on her website and at the 108 Contemporary Gallery shop. Soon, some of her smaller wall pieces will be on display and for sale at the 108 Contemporary Gallery for a show called Vision Makers. As well as a solo show at Liggett Studios in June.
Local Hotels & Restaurants
While visiting Vast Bank downtown 110 N Elgin Ave check out
- Topeca Coffee inside the lobby of Vast Bank.
- In the Raw, Vü a high end sushi restaurant on the top floor of the Bank Bank downtown.
- The French Hen, delicious French themed restaurant on the ground floor of the Vast Bank Building downtown.
- Hotel Indigo 121 S. Elgin.
“My work is made entirely of felted wool I make and dye by hand. Making my own materials is an important part of my artistic process because it allows me to have a hand in every aspect of creating my art from start to finish” Taylor Painter Wolfe
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