At home with her craft

Sally Sellers makes houses a focal point of her work

By and Large Inside-Outside_opt

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Sally Sellers, a Clark County resident for 30 years, uses textile media to create abstract designs from urban architecture.

“In addition to carrying high emotional content, the structure of a house possesses a geometrical joy which offers many design possibilities: all the windows, doors, angles and supports offer the opportunity to use a different color or line or object,” said Sellers.

Sellers said that using images of houses wasn’t a deliberate decision, but rather an unconscious response to an emotionally difficult period of time, when her middle daughter became so medically fragile that she had to go live in a children’s nursing facility in order to survive.

“I was devastated by our inability to care for her properly in our own home,” said Sellers. “My idea of a house/home as the ultimate place of refuge and protection was brought into question.”

Originally, Sellers made art quilts by machine, but as her artwork evolved, she began incorporating beads, pearls and even discarded electronic parts. And although it may seem odd at first to sew electronic parts into a picture, Sellers said “they looked just like little windows or doors to me.” Now she simply refers to her pieces as “textiles.”

She said that she is not a purist, and will mix hand-dyed as well as commercial fabrics — it depends on what the piece needs.

“I once cut up a pair of my niece’s gym shorts because they were the perfect color of green,” laughed Sellers.

After taking a class in beadwork, she “became enamored of encrusting a little piece of canvas with these glittery objects.” When her sister passed away, Sellers shipped the sister’s beads from Michigan to Washington – all 536 pounds of them.

She is always opening up to new themes in her work. She said that the idea of numbers going on and on into infinity “enthralls” her, and she wants to create more images centered around the number pi. Currently, she is working an “incredibly tactile” piece centered around the human hand, stitched from beads. She said she is also exploring using beads to make lines on textiles rather than stitching.

“However,” said Sellers, “that kind of work can get so tedious that I need to break out every now and then and start stitching larger pieces of fabric together to make images.”

Sellers’ work has been juried into major textile exhibitions, including Quilt National, Crafts National, and Fiberart International. She said her proudest moment was exhibiting a piece at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. Unfortunately, she did not get to see it.

“I was going to go to the opening, but then 9/11 happened and everyone was afraid to fly for a few weeks. I still have my ticket,” Sellers lamented.

Sally Sellers will exhibit her work at the “Clark County: Living the Good Life” art exhibit through the end of September. Building hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1300 Franklin Street in Vancouver.

She is also participating in “Reaching Beyond: The Northwest Designer Craftsmen at 60” at the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher Building in Bellingham, October through December 2014.

You can view more samples of Sellers’ textiles at her website, www.sallysellers.com.

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