In her Memphis studio, Paula Kovarik uses thread and fabric to create art.
The artist: The artist grew up in the Midwest, including Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, and earned her BA in design from Southern Illinois University.
After graduation, Kovarik moved to Memphis, where she had a graphic design practice for almost 30 years, specializing in corporate communications. Since 2013, she has been working as a full-time artist.
The studio: The artist works in a studio behind her home. The studio is nestled in perennial gardens and tall oak trees that inspire her work.
In addition to the two domestic sewing machines she uses to do her stitching, the studio is filled with images, inspirational bits found while traveling, a large fabric collection and a design wall.
In the beginning: Always a maker, Kovarik started using fabric and thread in her art after her mother introduced her to quilting.
Though she was skeptical about liking quilting, Kovarik soon found that piecing fabric together with stitch gave her an unlimited landscape of possibilities.
“The color, texture, and forms that can be created are only limited by my imagination.”
The art & materials: Art made with thread and fabric ($1,000 to $5,000). Interested in reusing found fabrics, Kovarik has been cutting up previously made quilts and recombining them with other fabrics in collages. The stitching adds line, texture and meaning to the fabric base.
Generally, pieces range from 24 inches by 24 inches to 90 inches by 40 inches. Most are in the 42-inch- by-36-inch range.
- Her design training.
- Reading about artists, science, politics and nature. “Reading is fundamental to my art practice.”
- Hieroglyphics and ancient stone carvings of the Mayans.
- Artists and designers including: William Morris, Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Lee Bontecou, William Kentridge, and the Kantha stitchers of Bengal.
Big break: The first time Kovarik applied to a juried show (Quilt National), she was juried in and ended up on the cover of the catalog. The international show of contemporary quilts traveled for three years.
“I realized then how important it was to me to release my work into the wild,” she said.
Honors: Invited for solo shows to a number of museums over the years, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Visions Art Museum in San Diego, the International Quilt Museum in Nebraska, and the National Quilt Museum in Kentucky.
- Recently published “At Play in the Garden of Stitch: Thoughts that come while eyeing the needle.” The lavishly illustrated book includes step-by-step stitching exercises, examples of her work and essays on how she approaches the work.
- Experimenting with 3D forms using her quilted fabric
- Teaching a workshop in Ashland, OR, hosted by artist and designer Diane Ericson, March 12-17.
- Solo show at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, May 13-Aug. 2.
- Included in a show at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL from Jan. 3-Feb. 2.
Get social at:
- Instagram: @yellowbrickstudio
- Journal: paulakovarik.com/journal