By Jenn Curran
Meet Katherine “Kat” McClelland, mixed media artist from Western Massachusetts. Paradise City Arts in Northampton is featuring McClelland’s work this October for the first time. The artist works with acrylics, sculpture and fiber. Her focus recently has been on her work in fiber arts. Her incredibly detailed portraits, needle felted on wet felted backgrounds, deliver imagery rich with texture and depth adding to the overall impact of the individual piece.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Maine and grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. I attended Maryland Institute College of Art where I met my husband, Ryan. I am a mom to two lovely girls. I spent 14 years teaching Special Education and Literacy. I earned my Masters of Education at UMASS, and presently I teach art for the Department of Youth Services (DYS).
Why do you do what you do?
I can’t imagine not creating. Even when I had small kids, worked a full-time job, and was earning my master’s degree, I was creating art. The simplest answer is because I have to.
How do you work?
My work often begins with a visual that catches my eye. One piece will lead to another. I’ll wonder what if I changed or added this or that. Recently all my focus has been on felting. I work from photographs. For my more complicated pieces, I’ll do sketches and paintings before beginning the felt piece.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Inspiration, support, and time. I am in short supply of the latter! My husband is my support; I respect his honest feedback and opinion. My daughters are my inspiration. My older daughter often helps photograph my subjects; her images inspire my work, and my younger is often the subject of my pieces.
If you could snap your fingers and make any piece of art legally and freely appear inside your house, what piece would it be?
That’s a tough one. If I had to choose it would probably be Klimt, maybe “The Kiss.” Perhaps a John Singer Sargent or Frida Kahlo piece. Can I have a whole gallery? It would be eclectic but awesome with some art quilts, ceramic pieces, and paintings!