Artist Spotlight: Lisa Thorpe

by Lisa Thorpe, painted, printed, stitched and appliqued cotton and thread, 36×72.

About this piece:
“’Shekhinah’ is a Hebrew word describing the manifestation of God’s presence on earth in feminine terms translated as she who dwells within. My ‘Shekinah’ is luminous and strong. She has four arms to suggest her capacity to embrace and love beyond human knowing. In one set of arms, she nurtures and cradles the earth and us. With the other set of arms, she holds a ball of thread and needle, forever stitching back into balance the world we have damaged so deeply.”

Artist statement:
“As an artist I am an explorer and observer first. I like to wander and wonder, let things percolate while I ponder. I have numerous sketchbooks full of chicken scratch drawings and cryptic thoughts. Over time (and often during a long, hot shower) an idea will keep rising to the surface. I might even push that thought bubble below the surface, telling it, ‘I don’t have time for you,’ but the best ideas won’t pop, and so I move on from thought to action.

“I like to problem solve, to piece and play with an idea until it can take shape as a visual idea. I love the mess of dyeing, printing and marking my own fabric. I scan my collection of photos in my phone to print on fabric and weave into my work. I like to transform the everyday observations of delight and wonder from my life to the meaning-driven intent of my art quilts. I am drawn to the use of fabric and stitch as a reference to the tradition of stitch as a feminine art that clothes and covers and comforts. It is something I learned from my foremothers; the way that making a bedquilt, a garment or meal could be both a necessity of life and a creative expression.

“Over the years I have been a painter, a printer, a graphic designer and collage maker, but the medium that keeps calling me back is fabric and stitch. My visual work is idea- and story-driven and often connected to words and writing, and I feel the long thread of connection between textile work and words. The etymology of the words textile and text come from the same Latin root, texere, meaning ‘to weave.’ The art I make is about weaving a story, some are as complex as the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden, others are as simple as a single word: ‘wait.’

“Whatever medium I work in, I’m weaving a story for the viewer to step into. The art is both personal and universal. Driven to pique and poke and ponder, my work invites discussion and discovery. As an educator I like to participate in forums and publications to explore and explain my work within the context of feminist, spiritual and environmental themes.”

See Thorpe’s work on display at Argenta Library through May 10 as part of the “Motherload” exhibit, online at and on Facebook and Instagram.

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