questioning what we see: tim harding

I’ve been with Artful Home for years – over a decade, which is a long part of our 30 year history. Tim Harding is one of the artists that has been with Artful Home for even longer, and is one of the artists that I – as a lover of fiber art – immediately gravitated toward. Harding, who lives in Minnesota, is a well-established fiber artist with a unique technique that he applies to both wall pieces and wearable art. I’ll admit, I’ve always liked the idea of wearing a Tim Harding. The key thing that causes me to come back to Harding’s works time and again as they evolve is his ability to make me question what I’m actually seeing.

The technique Harding uses to create these wall pieces makes the work seem alive. Swimmers and koi seem to move below the ripples of the water in some of his older pieces. Figurative shapes appear on monotone panels, but only as you stand at a distance away from the pieces. As you move close up on his works you see just the layers of appliqued fabrics. Step back again and figures suddenly come back into view. You are left wondering how his artistic vision can combine changes in fabric texture and subtle shifts in color to convince our eye that it is seeing a clearly recognizable shape. How he can create the feeling of movement within the water created from fabric.

Swimmer (fiber wall art) by Tim Harding

Swimmer (fiber wall art) by Tim Harding

As his work evolves, the technique remains roughly the same (layers of fabrics appliqued together) but he continues to experiment with shapes, colors, density, and luster to make our mind question what we are seeing.

In one series Harding plays with Venn diagrams of color. Yellow and blue make green. Red and yellow make orange. Green and purple come from blue. We see him playing with the color combinations that we all grew up learning. But you are drawn into each piece as you wonder how he made the color change. Does he create layers of yellow and red fabric that when combined give us the visual illusion of orange? He calls us again to question what we are seeing.

More recently Harding has been working with swirls of metallic monotones. Instead of drawing us through colors he now pulls us through motion. As the light plays off the texture he’s created in the metallic fabrics we feel as if the swirls are rotating and pulling the line along with them.

Gold Coils Triptych (Fiber Wall Art) by Tim Harding

Gold Coils Triptych (fiber wall art) by Tim Harding

Someone once told me that art makes you look at the world differently. That is what Harding’s work does. On a basic level it is simply layers of strips of fabric. But as you can see, those simple layers create movement and transitions. You are no longer seeing just the fabric. You are seeing moving figures and swirling motion and questioning what it truly is that you are seeing.


This piece is part of a series celebrating Artful Home’s 30th Anniversary. Read more HERE.

Leave A Comment