We are honored to have Lisa Klakulak as our dear old friend. In fact, Lisa took part in the DHG Charity Project with exceptional enthusiasm, contributing a jewel/amulet full of beauty and wisdom. You can admire it here. It is my pleasure to interview Lisa Klakulak once again, because she will teach a seminar here at our headquarters next October. So what better occasion to ask her some more questions?
Where does the idea of creating works of art that can be used as amulets come from? Which materials and techniques do you associate with protecting the mind, and which do you use for protecting the body?
Ever since I was a small child, I found a sense of security in the intentional placing of objects. Compartmentalizing objects brought a sense of order to my external as well as internal world that could at times feel chaotic. Structures and systems of organization fascinated me and I found a particular fondness for containers that by their nature held and protected. Houses, out buildings, nooks, closets, drawers, baskets and bags identified the objects held within as important, selected, honored and worthy of keeping. The very use of wool fiber with it’s historic use as an insulating and protective material suggests a sense of physical and mental security. While the felting process in particular, unifies the chaos of individual elements and can be used to fully encase objects in a protective felt skin. ! I don’t often tend to separate the physical and mental in my human experience or in the work I make to express those experiences, as I’ve found them intricately interlinked. Having a handle on a broad selection of techniques, including ways to incorporate other materials and objects to reinforce the concept driving a piece, provides a visual vocabulary to express myself more clearly.
You make both art and accessories for everyday life. If you had to choose only one, which one would you prefer to work on further?
When I began felting, I considered the accessories I made as more of a sketch book to explore ideas of how I could manipulate the material of felt, developing techniques and a deeper relationship so that when I had a particular vision for a more involved project I had paths to reach that goal. Human figures are the most satisfying form of my work, though I haven’t made many. These pieces come into being when I have a strong concept to express and the time allocated to spend on them. If I only focused on making figures, I think they would become a bit contrived as the process would become more production oriented with more of a goal to sell them rather than express myself through them.
Not very long ago you went on a trip to Patagonia, after which, you created a very interesting piece. What inspired you?
I love travel and the opportunity it offers: to step outside of my comfort zone, navigate different places and systems of organization and to learn about other cultures. After teaching at Anilinas Montblanc in Santiago I decided to spend some time traveling alone in southern Chile because of the extraordinary landscape and the opportunity to see glaciers. I was inspired by the grandiose landscape as I appreciate feeling small. I was overcome by the silence when surrounded by compacted ice that has no airspace and therefore less opportunity for sound and chaos. It reminded me of the peace I find when I work in my studio isolation. I was intrigued by the textures and the blue phenomenon of glaciers and after learning at the Glaciarium Museum in El Calafate, Argentina about why they occur I created Fractured Compaction. I recognized an analogy between snowfall and it’s compaction into silent ice and that of wool fibers into insulating felt. I wanted to address the concept of balance/imbalance that I observed in the accumulation of snow and pressure and the ablation through evaporation and melting. I also wanted to experiment with creating sharp, angular forms in felt.
Out of all the works you have designed and created, which ones are you most attached to? Why?
Of all the work I have made, it is the figurative pieces that are the hardest for me to let go of. My jewelry and accessories tend to be more explorations of ideas and techniques inspired by seeing other objects, while the figures are driven by emotions. Figures are a way of processing strong emotions by placing these feelings outside of myself and looking at them from a more objective view. By rocessing, depositing and containing these emotions inside the skin of a figure it is a way of letting go and moving on. I suppose the hardest figures to let go of are those that contain thoughts and emotions that maybe I haven’t completely worked through yet.
During your career, you have always worked with children. What motivates you to do so?
As a child I found my safe place through making. I could silence chaos and lack of control by focusing on the manipulation of materials. The material would listen and respond to my voice, effort and intention. When the desired effect was achieved, I found a sense of accomplishment. I believe making develops self-efficacy, a belief that you are capable of accomplishing a task of moving through obstacles and challenges. Life is hard. I know the self-empowerment of making and wish to share that with children, to provide them with this tool to navigate their lives. 06) You have already collaborated with DHG for our Charity project. What have you carried with you about that experience?
You have already collaborated with DHG for our Charity project. What have you carried with you about that experience?
I loved the concept of DHG’s Charity Project and was so very moved by the philanthropy of DHG’s chosen charity, the Children’s Hospital, in that it operates without cost to the family that is suffering with their child’s illness. DHG presented a beautiful balance by way of an artist promoting DHG and DHG promoting an artist, of a patron acquiring a work that spoke to them and that purchase in turn supporting the hospital. A business that dreamed up such a collaborative project was a business that I knew I would be happy to work with in other ways and I am thrilled to make the acquaintance of DHG’s staff this fall.
Next October, you are going to teach a course here at DHG. How do you feel about the idea of coming back to Italy and getting the chance to teach others your techniques?
I have actually never been to Italy before and feel very excited to have the opportunity to experience another place and culture. In fact it is one of the greatest joys of life for me, travel. I always feel gratitude that someone is intrigued with my work or way of working and wants to spend their precious time and money to participate in a class with me. My goal in teaching is to share different approaches and techniques for manipulating the medium of felt so that participants have the tools to express and explore their ideas. Rather than directing students to make a specific object, I like to explain why I have chosen a certain approach or a certain weight of wool. To explain how I use scientific information and felt theory to guide the way I work. I have always been a person who asks why, who wants to understand the reasoning, who doesn’t blindly accept another’s experience as my own. I want to empower others in their making. To help them feel confident to approach an idea, analyze what is happening, trouble shoot and redirect their actions for a more intended outcome. I treasure those moments when someone has an “Ohhhhhhh!” experience when presented with information, an explanation or a technique that connects the dots for them, that opens new doors.
If you liked this interview, you might also be interested in our interview with Laurence Aguerre.