I admit: I am a bi-coastal snob, who until just a few years ago had little direct connection to the vital community of artists working throughout the Midwest. Like many of my fellow “coasties” (a Midwest term I have learned here in Madison, WI) I knew of the Midwest more as a place of airport connections than artist colonies. Through my association with Artful Home, I have certainly learned otherwise and had my eyes opened.

While in Minneapolis to speak at the American Craft Council national conference, I was fortunate to get a chance to visit Tim Harding in his studio, located around 30 minutes outside the “Cities”. A Minnesota native, Tim’s work is more influenced by internal forces than external, yet his acute attention to the details of the landscape around him are evident in his intricate textile works. Harding’s pieces, comprised of cut, layered and stitched bits of silk, have a pixel-like quality reminiscent of pointillism. He uses “simultaneous contrast” – multiple solid colors in tight proximity to create the kind of vibrant richness associated with the Impressionists.

I was fascinated to learn from Eric Bladholm about the effect of his life spent in Chicago on his work, and it caused me to look at his work differently. From a young age, he was fascinated by the steel mills and urban areas. During college he started documenting through photography the urban landscape around Chicago, a project that continues today and has expanded internationally. He believes that his current work is heavily influenced by this. The industrial influence on his forms in glass is evident.