It looks like a collage or, more specifically, an assemblage, this stack of indigo-dyed papers and fabric in the studio of Santa Fe-based artist Kathleen McCloud. With its angular configuration of blank and printed papers, stained in various shades of blue, and its linear diagonals, the work recalls the geometric abstractions of early-20th-century Constructivists. And, while McCloud intends to sew it together into an actual art piece for hanging in her show, Fresh Air, on view at GF Contemporary (707 Canyon Road, 505-983-3707, gfcontemporary.com) through June 14, it is the result of a happy accident.
“It’s me cleaning my table up and stacking my materials,” says McCloud of the piece she’s now calling Out of the Blue. “That’s what that pile is. It’s the equivalent of what willow bark is to aspirin. It’s the real source material, almost. It really reminded me of a medicine bag. It had this satchel feeling to it. It had volume to it, and it was sculptural.”
McCloud, who grows and harvests her own indigo plants, was working in textile restoration before the pandemic and felt the need to transition to her own creative work. She attempted to make indigo-dyed tapestries on a loom but, like Penelope of Greek myth, ended up unweaving it all, which provided her with more source material for other projects. During the pandemic, she focused on using the materials available in her studio and garden rather than risk unnecessary trips to the store to gather supplies.
“That took me back to the indigo,” she says. “It coincided with my own need for cooling my nervous system. Like everyone else, I was burning up this red-hot energy that was going around and, at the same time, scared and uncertain. Indigo is a European term indicating the blue dye/fabrics from India. In India, the blue dye is called anil — air or wind. That’s what I feel in working with shades of indigo: air, wind, breath, fresh air, atmosphere, transpiration, oxygen; a clearing.” ◀