Studio Sunday: Katherine Westphal
Today in Studio Sunday we’re remembering Katherine Westphal. The artist was a pioneer of American Arts and Crafts, part of a movement that helped legitimize traditionally feminine art forms like quilting and crochet as fine art media. Westphal herself was known for her work with quilts. Westphal studied art from a young age and worked as an art professor in California universities and colleges for many years.
Though Westphal was particularly known for her textile works, there seems to be a lot of paper in this studio – a portion of Westphal’s quilting process involved creating images using photocopies and other paper techniques. The work strewn over the table in front of Westphal is likely imagery for a future quilt.
The whole space has a very homey atmosphere, and certainly leans toward the classic image of “arts and crafts.” Westphal looks like she could be at work on her kitchen table, with the artworks spilling over onto the walls and the floors.
It’s interesting to look at the imagery that Westphal seems to be using – various abstracted figures and what look like references to ancient pottery dance across the sheets of paper on the table. I wonder which of these are Westphal’s own works, and which are reference or inspirational materials.
Katherine Westphal was known as an influencer for a generation of textile artists and worked alongside contemporaries like Sheila Hicks and Miriam Schapiro. In 2009, she was awarded the Gold Medal for Consummate Craftsmanship by the American Craft Council. Westphal passed away in March 2018 at the age of 99.