Richmond-based textile artist Hillary Waters Fayle began stitching and using leaves as a primary medium because she loved intricate needlework and was drawn to organic and natural materials.
Artist: Born in Buffalo NY, Fayle earned a BFA from Buffalo State College and a MFA degree in Craft/Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
In addition to her studio work, Fayle is an assistant professor and head of the fiber program at VCU. She also teaches workshops domestically and abroad.
Company/studio: Hillary Waters Fayle has been based in Richmond since 2012.
Art & materials: Art which combines botanical and organic materials with traditional processes, most frequently embroidery or cutwork on leaves ($500 to $10,000).
In the beginning: Fell in love with embroidery while studying textiles as an exchange student in Manchester, UK. When the term ended, Fayle returned to rural New York state to work at a children’s summer camp which focused on environmental education and stewardship. It was the same camp she had gone to as a child.
In her off-hours, Fayle kept looking up at an oak tree, wondering if she could use her needle skills with the leaves. This step in working with botanical materials was the first in moving toward what now defines her practice.
- Collects botanical material, including leaves, flowers and seeds, with a sensitivity to harvesting responsibly.
- Leaves are pressed for preservation and will later be used for botanical arrangements or cutwork/embroidery. They are arranged and adhered directly to paper or acrylic to create complex arrangements.
Everyday tools: Needle and thread, X-ACTO knife, Japanese thread snips, jeweler’s tweezers.
- Nature, especially flowers, plants and all kinds of botanical art.
- Geometric patterns.
- Historical textiles from around the world.
- Botanically themed art and design.
- Illustrations of illuminated manuscripts.
Fun or special commissions: Working with specific material or in specific locations that hold some significance for people. Fayle calls these works “Portraits of Place.”
One of the first was from the yard and gardens of a private residence in Richmond. The gardens had been beautifully and carefully planted for the wedding of the homeowners’ daughter. Making a portrait of the place was a way to commemorate the event and the garden.
Recent honors: Will participate in a U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program later in 2023 in Algiers, Algeria.
Recent project: “Portrait of Place” for Grace Farms Foundation, an 80-acre cultural and humanitarian center in New Canaan, CT. The project included botanical material collected from the grounds of the foundation. The material was then pressed and arranged on acrylic, and used to create cyanotype prints.
Other projects: Collaborations with Domestika, a creative community of experts; L’Occitane en Provence, the French skincare retailer, and the New York Botanical Garden. Also a public installation in collaboration with the AKG Museum, which can be seen year round in Buffalo, NY.
- “Remnants and Echoes,” a solo exhibition at the Tephra ICA in Reston, VA. Through June 18.
- “The Nature of Things,” a three-person exhibition at the Flippo Gallery at Randolph Macon University in Ashland, VA. April 16-May 28.
- “Force of Nature,” a group exhibition at The Galleries in Concord, NC. 10-Oct. 14.
Where to buy: hillarywfayle.com for commissions.
Get social: Instagram: @hillary.waters