Karen Lewis had the pleasure recently of visiting Beth Yazhari in her studio. Here is an idea of what you could experience in a little over a month when Portland Open Studios opens.
When you enter Beth Yazhari’s studio, you first notice a rich collection of textures and patterns. She delights you with colorful designs, many reminiscent of Persian carpets or Amish quilts. Then you are drawn in to discover the layers and layers of textures that make up her beaded textile collage paintings.
Beth begins her work on canvas, using acrylic paint in washes textured with cling wrap. This gives the piece a rich, luminous color field, much of which will be covered in subsequent layers. Vintage textiles inspire the design, defining the initial pattern of the piece. She will play with a bit of fabric or lace as if it’s a puzzle, cutting out pieces and laying them out in symmetry– hence the carpet-like designs of the paintings. Once the starting piece is in place, Beth layers her painting with gold paint, more textiles, stenciling through laces, and thin layers of acrylic paint. She creates transfers from her own photographs, adding those and painting over them for permanence and color harmony. And she sews beads on to the canvas, making everything secure so that the painting will stand the test of time, as the pieces of lace and vintage beads and buttons have done.
Beth delights in searching for interesting pieces of vintage textiles. Her collection of materials is global, embracing Victorian era lace, Indian sari fabrics, embroidery from Pakistan, beads from Africa, buttons from Germany. Items with character and handwork catch her eye. Beth’s collections fill a whole closet in her studio, and just browsing through the materials can be a treat.
In creating out of recycled and found handicrafts, Beth is “giving new life to the hand work of women” through the ages, honoring their creativity and giving it a place in our modern life. Take a trip through time and space and visit Beth Yazhari’s studio!