Tales of inspiration and creativity, behind-the-scenes glimpses at art-making, in-depth arts features, and narrative portraits of LAL artists.
Dobree Adams is a contemporary fiber artist in Frankfort, Kentucky. Her one of a kind works have been featured across the world. Her weavings have not only been shown in New York, but also Japan, England, France, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and other places in the United States.
Her process in creating these beautiful fiber art pieces is very precise and intricate. She uses a rare breed of wool that she spins and dyes. She uses different natural colors to black of hand spun yarns as well as paints the dyed yarn by hand.
LAL (Lexington Art League): What choices or influences in your life have led you to pursue a career as an artist?
DA (Dobree Adams): My background includes almost 30 years in the scientific field. Slowly I was learning to weave and spin and I was raising sheep. As the children began to graduate from college, I began planning to leave a successful information systems management position and pursue a second career as farmer and artist. In 1986 I made a big leap: I enrolled in a two week class at Penland School of Craft in spinning and dyeing. On the way there driving alone I had the sense that what happened in that class might be a defining moment, I would know if I really wanted to give up computers and go to the loom. On the first night at Penland, even before classes started, I realized that I was on the right path.
LAL: What got you started in working with this medium?
DA: Jonathan gave me a book called Off Loom Weaving our first Christmas together. I built my first loom with four sticks and a handful of nails. I purchased handspun natural colored wool yarn from Paula Simmons on the West Coast. We purchased a spinning wheel from a single mother who wanted to buy her little boy a puppy. The wheel was still in its box. My daughter and I went to Pine Mountain Settlement School to a gathering of the Fleece and Flax Guild. She was 12 and learned how to spin in an hour. I still could not make yarn at the end of the weekend despite everyone’s help, but I set up the spinning wheel in our apartment and worked at it every day until I could spin.
LAL: Can you remember the first piece you created?
DA: My first project was a tiny rug which I still have. My second project on that loom was a purse for my mother from the same first batch of yarns.
LAL: What helps you to focus and “get in the zone” for creating?
DA: I do a lot of gathering of ideas, words, thoughts, and images. When it is time to focus for the next project, I start pulling out and playing with all that stuff I have gathered on scraps of paper, in journals, in my photographs, in notes from books I have read. Deadlines help to get me in gear. I have many passions and never enough time.
LAL: What or who inspires you to create artwork?
DA: That comes from within, the need to share what I am seeing and feeling.
LAL: What was your inspiration for this piece specifically?
DA: In several series I have created a large collection of work that was inspired by travels in Japan and by design aesthetics which are an inherent part of Japanese culture as well as guiding principles for the traditions of art and craft. SHI (Passion for Poetry) is in the YUGEN Series which comes from the Zen concept of paring down to the essence. YUGEN, which means ‘subtlety or mystery’ refers to the beauty below the surface.This piece called SHI, Yugen Series #10, is the second tapestry in the series with this name. SHI Yugen Series #6 was purchased by a collector in France.
LAL: What is one thing you would want viewers to take away from this piece?
DA: One thing: not everything in a design can be complex. Here the complexity comes from color palette of rich, jewel-like hues and the dyeing by hand painting the skein with a Japanese brush. The basic design is simple; the weaving technique is basic. The simple brushing of the surface during the weaving process adds a degree of three dimensionality.
Check out her website for more of her beautiful pieces: dobreeadams.com
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The Loudoun House
209 Castlewood Dr.
Lexington, Ky. 40505
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The Kentucky Arts Council, a state arts agency, provides operating support to the Lexington Art League with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support provided by Lexington Parks & Recreation.