When Kathy Bennett Dove created her first fabric wall sculptures with Japanese Obi (kimono sashes) and assemblage elements seventeen years ago, she did not think of it as starting an entirely new genre of art. Yet, it is a new art form. It is a bridge between painting and sculpture and is a form of assemblage art. It is “painting" with fabric and employing the sculptural definition of giving shape in volume, much like low-relief or high relief sculpture. The wall sculptures maintain the intrinsic quality of the fabric and are not hardened or altered. Still, they can be dusted. There is an interactive quality created by the moving light into folds and shadows from the fabrics’ textures themselves, as well as by the observer’s movement while observing. The works typically incorporate three-dimensional found objects. These non-fabric elements, such as chopsticks, bamboo, reed, wood, copper, glass shapes, dolls, and even a dryer vent, add to the meaning of the entire piece. Her creative process then started by discovering a pristine silk obi, cutting pine and cedar to make frames, choosing fabrics and elements to enhance the display, and discovering techniques to make the fabrics “fly” as if they were floating freely in space. Obi sculptures are large pieces, often two feet high, eight feet long, and nine inches deep, but they still also fit beautifully into modest-size rooms, into any style of house decor from traditional to modern, and in corporate boardrooms and offices.
Kathy then expanded her range into painting and dyeing silk (her silk scarves are presently sold out) and creating other, smaller three-dimensional forms, displayed in 16” X 20” shadow boxes. Next, she moved into sculpting metallic fabrics, foils, felt, and organza and attaching them to canvas. These new materials became new sources of inspiration for fabric assemblage structures, ranging in size from 16 x 20 inches, up to 3 x 5 feet. Always, the emphasis has been on color and design. Kathy layers fabrics to achieve intensity and depth of color. Since she is not mixing pigments, the color combination result is unique. At times, the combination of colors and fabrics changes the character of both colors. At other times, the layering influences one fabric or color more than the other. Sometimes, both colors maintain their individual colors or allow them to be simultaneously viewed both separately and blended. New techniques and approaches had to be developed to construct with the different weights, composition, and nature of the fabrics. Judges have been interested in Kathy’s innovative, colorful and dramatic forms, and they have awarded her numerous prizes in shows. Her fabric sculptures have hung in galleries, museums and restaurants in Maryland and Florida.
Kathy’s latest pursuit is photography. Her infatuation with color and attention to detail and design show in her unique images, which are never “Photoshopped” to remove or add elements, but using the computer only to enhance colors that were already present. Her computer post-processing is analogous to the steps a photographer might do in a traditional “Wet” darkroom with exposure, contrast and filters. Still, many images have an abstract appearance. Many of her photographs have been nationally juried and have won awards in shows in Maryland and Florida. Some are to be published in a major magazine to illustrate one of her husband’s stories. Tom is a boating journalist.
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