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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Painting with wool

Tree Reflections.JPG
Courtesy of the artist
Martha Rosenfeld
"Tree Reflections," a fiber artwork by Martha Rosenfeld

Painting with wool – that’s how fiber artist Martha Rosenfeld describes her work. She’s been designing and making hand-hooked rugs since 2007. Rosenfeld earned a degree in anthropology at Kalamazoo College, and a master’s degree is in ceramics. But her career was in legal services until, at one point, Rosenfeld decided that working in the arts, whether in pottery or hooking rugs, deserved her full attention. She’s shown her rugs in invitational and juried exhibits around Southwest Michigan, and is a member of Signature Artists, an artist’s cooperative active in the Kalamazoo area. Rosenfeld teaches rug hooking at the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts (KIA).

A conversation with Martha Rosenfeld

Rosenfeld says she became a potter while living in Colorado earning her MFA, but then returned to Kalamazoo.

Wind in the Dunes.JPG
Courtesy of the artist
Martha Rosenfeld
"Wind in the Dunes," a fiber artwork by Martha Rosenfeld

“I moved back to Kalamazoo to start my pottery life,” she says. “And those of you who lived in Kalamazoo in the 90’s may remember me as an exhibitor and teacher at the KIA. Then I moved to Chicago for personal reasons in 2000, and that’s when I started working for a legal firm. I was doing pottery and working in law firms at the same time. Then I moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 2003 and continued working in law firms. I started the legal work because I was almost, kind of, sort of, almost making a living in clay, but not really—so at some point I had to face reality.”

The other reality was that working in clay requires a lot of time—time that Rosenfeld didn’t have while working in an office. Just firing a kiln, she says, can take 12 hours. As she kept her eye open for other kinds of art that she could do in shorter spans of time, she discovered rug hooking.

“I didn’t want to become a hobbyist in something I had put my heart and soul into becoming a professional with,” Rosenfeld says. “So, in 2007, I started all over with rug hooking. That appealed to me because I could pick it up and put it down and come back to it 15 minutes later without any clean-up.”

Rosenfeld tends toward nature scenes in her pieces, creating her own designs from life or photographs. Recently, she has begun learning how to spin her own yarn to add yet another dimension to her work. Rosenfeld offers classes from beginner to advanced levels and provides all materials at the KIA. For more information about Rosenfeld’s work or her classes, call (269) 888-4223 or email Rosenfeld-dot-martha-at-gmail-dot-com.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 pm

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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