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Art with a twist on traditional craft and personal stories at Fort Worth's Kinfolk House

Mixed-media art installation of larger-than-life braids connected together "like joining hands"
Sally Verrando
Artist Deyjah Stewart
Deyjah Stewart’s newest work for “Woven Together” at Kinfolk House in Fort Worth Feb. 24, 2023, is of braids connected “like joining hands,” she said. This is a new direction in her art, she said, like carrying her forward from her reflection of the past.

Three artists weave their personal stories of family, vulnerability and strength through a new fiber arts exhibit in the collaborative project space, Kinfolk House.

A new exhibit, "Woven Together" at Kinfolk House in Fort Worth, puts a twist on traditional women's crafts that play off nostalgia and also offer a fresh perspective, said Jessica Fuentes, the executive director of Kinfolk House.

It feels right at home in the 100-year-old historic house in the Polytechnic neighborhood of Fort Worth. It had belonged to artist Sedrick Huckaby's grandmother Hallie B. Carpenter, who was known as Big Momma, until her death in 2008.

Huckaby bought the house from a family member in 2010 and said he wanted to honor his matriarch's memory. He and his wife Letitia opened Kinfolk House in 2022 as a nonprofit arts space "for artists who have been historically underserved," Fuentes said.

"This was a house that had been home to many people before his family, and it had its own history," she said. "It just kind of felt like the space was imbued with that sense of being a welcoming space for all."

The front door of Kinfolk House is like a portal to the past, transporting visitors as they step through to a seemingly simpler time of generations ages ago.

Here's a look at the three artists in "Woven Together" and their work.

Deyjah Stewart

Deyjah Stewart’s vibrant work is a contrast to the loss and lack of belonging that she said she has felt. “I find strength in those things. And I think about how, especially when it comes to losing somebody, certain things can relate to them and also connect with our deeper selves,” she said.
Sally Verrando
Artist: Deyjah Stewart
Deyjah Stewart’s vibrant work is a contrast to the loss and lack of belonging that she said she has felt. “I find strength in those things. And I think about how, especially when it comes to losing somebody, certain things can relate to them and also connect with our deeper selves,” she said.

Deyjah Stewart's colorful fabric and yarn sculptures stand out against the aged patina of the original wooden floors and walls. Her work conveys sentimental memories with simple wooden rocking chairs and patchwork quilts.

“I think about how loss has strengthened my familial relationships,” the Fort Worth artist said, adding that reflecting on the past and the death of her grandmother, her best friend, brings solitude and strength.

Stewart said she wanted to use crochet in her work because her mother started to crochet again. “It's personal to me because of my mother ... it has carried on. It's like a bond for me and my mom and what we love.”

Kandy G. Lopez

A larger-than-life portrait made with yarn on a hook rug mesh canvas, hanging in a window
Sally Verrando
Artist: Kandy G. Lopez
Kandy G. Lopez, a Miami artist, sews portraits with yarn on hook rug mesh canvas for “Woven Together,” Kinfolk House’s spring installation in Fort Worth Jan. 24, 2023. Painting in oils is easier than working with yarn, she said. “I'm still learning how to manipulate it. It's a material that has so many possibilities, just like paint.”

Kandy G. Lopez, based in Miami, hand sews yarn onto hook rug mesh for larger-than-life-sized portraits that exude confidence and strength.

Lopez's grandmother was a seamstress in the Dominican Republic and taught her pattern-making as a teenager. In college, Lopez said she taught herself how to crochet by watching YouTube videos.

Her fiber arts work evolved from a "happy accident" in the studio when a string fell onto a print, she said. She then began using string with her oil paintings.

Her yarn pieces are the result of trial and error, Lopez said. She finds fibers more difficult to create with than paint.

Isabel Wilson

Digital print of Deyjah Stewart's hammock creation on 2D fabric, sewed as a dress
Sally Verrando
Artist/designer: Isabel Wilson
Isabel Wilson has worked in digital textile printmaking for more than 15 years. She said she is drawn to colorful, repetitive textures and is inspired when working with artists. “It is so fun to participate in a gallery context and have work be elevated by the beauty of the Kinfolk House architecture and history,” she said.

Isabel Wilson, a Houston fashion designer from an "artist family," collaborated with Stewart to create part of her exhibit—a digital fabric print made from high-resolution photographs of Stewart's mixed-media sculpture. The yarn image has a 3D effect on two-dimensional fabric.

Wilson uses leftover material from past projects.

"Using fabrics from specific times in my life that hold meaning and then sewing them together, it can make for a very beautiful, poetic narrative," she said.

Jessica Fuentes stands in front of Kandy Lopez's larger-than-life yarn portraits
Sally Verrando
Artwork by Kandy G. Lopez
Social practice art has the power to transform lives, said Jessica Fuentes, the executive director of Kinfolk House in Fort Worth, Jan. 24, 2023. “Some of the actions that artists can take to use their creative abilities can be so much bigger than just visual art,” she said.

This exhibit "presents art in a new light for people who feel uncomfortable thinking about traditional art or don't see that as a reflection of themselves...they have a much more direct connection to works like this," Fuentes said.

"Woven Together" runs through April 22 at Kinfolk House. Each artist will participate in a special event during the exhibit:

  • March 25 - Isabel Wilson speaks after a University of North Texas student fashion show
  • March 28 - Kandy G. Lopez talks about her artwork with Maria Elena Ortiz, curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
  • April 8 - Deyjah Stewart discusses her creative process during a Show & Share

Kinfolk House, 1913 Wallace St., Fort Worth, is open Tuesday-Sunday.

Senior in journalism at TCU, intern with KERA's Art&Seek