I have been around textiles for nearly 70 years. The versatility of the medium and its geometry and texture never ease tosuprise me. My young years were spent watching my mother, a skilled seamstress, fashion garments without the use of a pattern. I loved to look at and touch her stacks of fabrics while she magically transformed flat shapes into something else. Those early experiences have continually informed my artwork.
Mixed Media Textiles: 1997 – 2004
During this period, the garment district in New York City was showing very heavy laces, devore and leno fabrics. I was intrigued by their nearly three-dimensional qualities. They were elegant, yet often oddly colored. I was just elarning woven textile design for industrial purposes, and I was curious about how these designs were made. I unmasked, sprayed with gesso and gilded them and used their new identities as a base on which to create imagerhy. The evolution from flexible textile to painted plane in sculptural relief offered many possibilities for mix-media application.
Double Cloth Weavings: 1979-1994
The articulation of opposites was an important conceptual aspect of my weaving during this era. Pieces consisted of a juxtaposition of delicate cotton and linen yarns woven into bold, highly designed images. Cloth and form intensified each other’s properties by the nature of their contrast. This work reflects the historical influence of Russian Constructivism wiht its flat planes of color and the contemporary aesthetic of the first computer motherboards coupled with what was then the latest in technology – the Apple Macintosh 128K.
In 2004, Kowalski founded KOVA Textiles in New York City, a design studio specializing in creating unique window shade fabrics from vinyl-coated polyester and polymer alloy yarns. Her current body of work focuses on the repurposing of flawed or damaged KOVA fabrics. The physical properties of these sophisticated yarns make them unique as art materials. The polyester core of the vinyl-coated yarns, for example, led to experimentation with their capillary action capability. The resulting pieces have the appearance of ancient ikat weavings with the contemporary twist that the dye is on the inside of the year. THe flexible but firm quality of the materials also inspired sculptural forms that are untethered from the wall, allowing the artist to venture for the first time into the realm of the fully three-dimensional with her work.