03 February 2017

Introducing…. Kristi Farrier

Me - Before and After (detail) by Kristi Farrier 
Up and coming artist Kristi Farrier is new to SAQA-Atlantic. Kristi is currently in transition, from her long-time home and professional career in Almonte, Ontario to a new life in an old farmhouse in Middle River, Cape Breton (NS), where she can focus more of her time exploring and producing textile art.

We were delighted to meet Kristi and see a few of her wonderful textile pieces at the SAQA Atlantic retreat in Debert, NS last fall. 

She recently agreed to tell us more about her life and artwork.

How would you describe your work?

My pieces are visual interpretations of life events, experiences and emotions. Most often abstract, the pieces feature graphic, geometric shapes and grids in which color and line play strongly. I often work with the underlying notion of structured elements contrasting with organic or representational elements from nature – striving for balance or reflecting the tension between the tame and the wild, order and chaos, straight versus curved.

Although textiles – both commercial and hand dyed – are my primary medium, paint, ink and found objects often make their way into my work. I favour raw edges, celebrating imperfection and providing freedom of process.

Epicentres (detail) by Kristi Farrier

Describe your journey towards becoming an artist who works with textiles. 

I’ve always been surrounded by creative people. My mother, grandmother and aunts were accomplished sewers and quilters. My grandmother was a painter and my aunt also draws and paints. Her thread paintings were quite possibly the first art quilts I encountered. 

As a child I spent hours playing with buttons, cutting, and stitching while watching my mother and grandmother sew. I learned to make clothing as a teenager and, while in university, made my first quilt. I continued to sew and quilt while raising two sons and pursuing a career.  

It wasn’t until I saw a photo of Anna Hergert’s artwork that my interest turned to art quilting. I eagerly signed up for her weekend workshop and made my first art quilt. Several years later, with more time in my life, I reconnected with Anna and have since participated in annual sessions with her. Under her guidance, my confidence as an artist has grown and I’m beginning to build a body of work that reflects my visual voice. Artist Elaine Quehl has also been influential in my shift to art quilts. 

Because I don’t have formal art training, I make a concerted effort to learn in other ways and to engage with artists, both textile artists and others. My efforts to become more familiar with the formal art world, local art communities and other artists, combined with a little serendipity now and then, have made it easier to get comfortable in my ‘textile artist’ shoes. Although still very much at the beginning of this journey, I’m excited to see how my work will evolve as I continue.

I'm Fine Thanks. How are You? by Kristi Farrier, h33"x w31"

Tell us about your process for creating. Where do you find your inspiration and how do you get from that to a final product?

I find inspiration in everyday life. Nature also draws me, so I take lots of photographs to capture inspiring moments for later contemplation. I keep several books full of sketches and notes. Rarely does a project begin with a complete idea of the end result. Often, it begins with a rough sketch, just a very general sense of where it might go. Then, I like to play with the techniques I’m considering, both as a warm-up exercise and to be sure of the effect. Once I’ve begun in earnest, my ideas evolve as I work. Often, I need to leave a piece for a while before I know what comes next for it, so I usually have several pieces on the go at once. 

What Happens If? by Kristi Farrier, h16" x w25"

Do you have a studio, or do you work wherever you can find a spot?  

I’m very fortunate to have bright studio spaces in both my Ontario and Cape Breton homes. But I also work in other places. The more technical aspects of my work, like the planning, machine sewing or surface design stages, are done in the studio. On the other hand, the idea generation and handwork most often happen in more social settings or out in nature.
Epicentres by Kristi Farrier, h53"x w25"

What are you currently working on and why?

I’ve been working on a series of pieces inspired by the notion of compartmentalizing time and recording life. It comes out of my interest in the way a particular experience can influence our interpretation and understanding of past and future experiences. For example, Epicentres (right), reflects three significant events in a specific period of time in my life, with grid pattern representing a six-month calendar. The radiating circles imply the ripple effect of events on future decisions and simultaneously, the impact on how previous events are remembered or interpreted/reinterpreted.  

I’m also finishing up a few “one-off” pieces, using them to try new techniques or just improve existing skills.

Do you engage in other artistic or creative endeavors?

I enjoy many creative pursuits, including photography, pottery, drawing and a little painting. Music is also an important part of my life: I play the flute, noodle around with the guitar and enjoy singing. I also write poetry and practice henna body art.

Apparently there's Room to Grow by Kristi Farrier, h14" x w10"

What (non-fibre) artists, either historic or contemporary, have inspired you and why?

Years ago, while studying at the University of Lethbridge, I was captivated by a painting that hung in the library and I’ve never forgotten it. I recently discovered that the painting was Bird Cloud by Lyonel Feininger. The geometric nature and sense of movement and refracted light, in contrast to the soft, hazy amorphous effect, is what I appreciate in many of his works.

The combination of color and graphic, geometric design in the works of Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia Delauney also inspire my textile work. 

I appreciate the geometric and organic textural surface design in the work of ceramic artist Ute Naue-Mueller (nee Grossman). I thank painter Rosemary Leach’s work and teaching for helping me better understand color. I love her vibrant use of colour and celebration of the ordinary.

What fibre artists are you currently interested in, and why?

I love Deidre Adams’ appreciation for the beauty of imperfection as well as her use of line, line, line. I’m also drawn to her use of printed paper and the raw, rough, and free feel of much of her work.

The colour and movement in the work of Sue Benner also draws me in. I just want to keep looking and looking. 

What are your goals for the coming year?

My primary goals are to produce more and show my work more. To this end I strive to get into the studio for several hours every day and to develop a more structured approach to working in series. I’m also aiming to introduce new surface design techniques and both natural and found elements into my work, such as natural dyes or natural and non-traditional textiles and materials. 

Spring Storm by Kristi Farrier, h18" x w25"
Learn more about Kristi Farrier on her blog, Mirth365, and Instagram account.


  1. I enjoyed reading about your process and seeing your works. I will check some of your artist references; some I know, some I don’t.
    I hope you’ll be at retreat so I can see your work for real.