Having sewn all her life, working with textiles became a natural extension of Kaman’s art. In 2015, while looking for a way to create work that could travel easily with her, she began to play combining fabrics and paper. She approached the work in the same way as painting, to create a space that would allow for iconic images to be presented as symbols and metaphors of life. Early in her process, Beanie drew inspiration from the color blocks of Mark Rothko as well as Asian hanging scrolls for presentation. 

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The variation between fabrics, threads and textures made for an infinite palette. She began to incorporate old monoprints, old clothes, maps, ticket stubs, anything she had saved over the years for memories. Because of the personal elements within the work, each piece could then be interpreted biographically as places that she had visited or as references to home, family and mythology. The play between design, pattern, collage and color is key to this work.

By sewing, weaving and blending the materials and images, a story is often told, to be unraveled in each viewer’s participation. There is a reflection of what is shared in the world, of a unity between culture and nationality.

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Hand Built

Kaman began to explore the difference between sewing with the machine versus the slow process of building the artwork by hand-sewing. She found that the slower process allowed for a completely different kind of construction, that the piece evolved as it was created in a much more structural way. Rather than approaching the work from the idea of sewing pieces sewn on top of a base of fabric, this work evolved from stitching pieces together. By hand-sewing each piece of fabric to the next, the works became more like creating puzzles, almost a game to find what works together toward an unseen end. There is less of a narrative story and more of a graphic quality that comes about as well, letting the materials be the star of the show.

These works are often presented very simply on the wall without frame or support, to emphasize their structural presence.

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Kaman has had a long fascination with hanging objects. She has always loved the improbability of something heavy hanging from a string, such as objects hanging from a spider’s thread; the strength of that silver thread seems so illogical. Sewing brought her to a point to make some of these drawings come to life, whether it is leaves dangling from branches or water drops from waterfalls. Sewing many small shapes – in reference to these organic forms – she makes them all hang in the balance between floating air and gravity.

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As a natural progression from the Hand Built work, the idea of losing the rectangle format became obvious. Abandoning this restriction allowed for circular and odd-shaped pieces to take form, with eventual forays into a 3-D format that shed additional constraints. Some of the works are two-sided and are hung from the ceiling to be observed from both sides. Other non-rectangular 3-D works continue to use the wall as a base, but their particular combinations of overlapping paper and fabric enable them to be hung in various combinations. 

There is a great sense of fun and freedom within this work, where humor is allowed to thrive.

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This series is about the clear essence of our existence in the world. Kaman portrays the things of life that we use often, that are either important to our existence or that keep us comfortable. 

The work is from the idea of a simple drawing, but translated into fabric, thread and sometimes paint. Each piece is meant to be one thought, one representation of an aspect of our lives, something basic in our shared existence. The white polka dots represent the air that we breathe, the ultimate essence of living.

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