Seeing one of Pam Collin’s fabric landscapes can be a surreal experience. At first it looks like beautiful bold brush strokes. Taking a closer look, you might think it’s a paper collage, the way pieces are layered. It comes as a shock when you realize the painting is actually composed of fabric, torn and reassembled to create a landscape. Pam Collins started using this medium after years working with watercolor. “It wasn’t until, quite by accident, I stumbled upon using fabric as paint,” she said. She manipulated fabric to make a sample of a piece of public art. “The minute I used it, I knew I had found home.”
To create one of these pieces, Pam starts with scraps of fabric, whether they be clothes, pillow cases, napkins—anything that can be repurposed and given new life. She cuts the fabric into pieces, and at that point, she said, “I no longer see clothing, upholstery, or quilt scraps. I now see patterns and textures as landscapes, or skin tones and wrinkles.” Though it can be challenging to conceptualize how fabric can turn into a landscape, Pam finds joy in that artistic process. “Seeing fabric as possible clouds, skies, water, mountains, trees, puts me in an adventurous mood and state of mind,” she said.
Pam spends her time working in her studio, and also sharing these unique skills through teaching. For most students, fabric is a completely new medium. Because of this, Pam gives as much encouragement as she can, explaining the process and use of the tools. As a teacher, she finds it rewarding when students have that ‘aha moment’ and figure out how to create their vision with fabric. “When students allow themselves to play and experiment and have fun, without all the self-expectations, it is magical what can happen.” She hopes to share her excitement for fabric as a medium. “I am enthralled by the textures, the grains, and weaves, the colors, the way it hangs.
Pam is currently focusing on production of her pieces, but you can find her at the Textile Center on May 18, giving a talk for the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters Guild.
She will also be teaching a class called “Fabric is Paint” at WBCA on March 14 – Click here for more information!
by Ellie Fuelling, Development & Marketing Assistant