Artist Bio & Statement
All creative expression comes from the One source. The blessed gift of being creative is my experience of “flow,” when time stops and joy is a stream burbling through me.
I am fortunate to come from a lineage of female artists and musicians. Having moved away from my early path as a pianist and vocalist, I had the fortunate misfortune to be felled by serious illness at 28 years old. Homebound and needing something to do as I moved from bed to couch, I reached for long-forgotten skills taught by my grandmother, mother and aunt. Thus began a new journey into my artistic soul. Through the grace of stillness, induced by my illness, I began creating as I felt called.
I move through the world by intuition, emotion, touch, smell, visual sensation. Thoughts, ideas and emotions have “feeling,” color, image and sensation for me…visceral experience. Fiber allows me to integrate my emotional and spiritual “felt” sense with my love for kinesthetic life.
My art shares my vision of the physical, emotional, and energetic textures of the natural world and internal experience. My work explores the relationship between nature, soul and humanity, and how the threads of this dynamic relationship impact emotion, personal awareness, and the experience of beauty as the soul is nourished. All speak to me of that communion which is the essence of Being and the nurturance of soul.
My designs come to me from dreams and dream-like visions, from nature, from the souls I meet, and from my own healing, evolving and spiritual journey as a human being. I seek to express either a deep felt-sense that wells up from inner experience and body-soul memory, or a spirit I sense in an image. I explore where that memory or spirit takes me in the process of transforming it into fiber. In the case of body-soul memory, I seek to follow the thread that creates the bridge between a felt truth within me and visual expression, making visible the inarticulate. Each piece leads me on a journey. In the end, I discover a spirit greater than I sensed originally. The work unfolds to show me beyond, as Leonard Cohen says, “….what I only know the limits of.”
I experience profound communion with nature, with Creation, with my own deepest self, and with G-d through the birthing of each piece. Poems often emerge to join the artwork, sometimes even preceding and inspiring the piece. My use of technique is defined by the needs of a given piece. I love the exploration of technique to “voice” the piece as it wishes to be “heard” and felt.
“Abraham’s Children” was my response to 911.
It took me a few months to compost that event, for this piece to form itself. I completed it in February 2002 with the words that came to me inscribed on its back.
“Abraham’s Chldren” is my plea for peace. To all the descendants of Abraham: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, we are family. We have fought as only family can fight. It is time to work as hard at acceptance and peace. All the effort, vigilance and commitment we have put into anger and vengeance will create a miraculous and enduring peace for our family. It is time.
Since then, I have sought the home for “Abraham’s Children.” Always I have known it needed to belong to people who were doing the work of Tikkun Olam (healing the world) on this level of faith, humanity, and love for this Gaian Earth we share.
In March 2011, “Abraham’s Children” found its home…with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Eve Ilsen, whose hearts and lives have long been committed to this healing.
I was honored and blessed to give “Abraham’s Children” to Reb Zalman and Eve when they were in Ashland for a Shabbaton at Havurah Shir Hadash, my own Shul. I was doubly honored to present this gift on behalf of our entire Havurah Shir Hadash community www.havurahshirhadash.org and in the merit of our own amazing and beloved Rabbi David Zaslow.
This gifting was a deep blessing to me…a small miracle I cannot define or adequately articulate. I am grateful.
The Dedication to Reb Zalman and Eve inscribed on the quilt:
“Abraham’s Children” was presented to Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi & Eve Ilsen, March 2011, in gratitude and honor for your presence among us, your work in the world, within Judaism and Jewish Renewal, for the uplifting of all faith traditions in unity and loving stewardship of this Gaia-Earth, who births, houses and nourishes us all. Presented by Stephanie K. Nead, on behalf of Havurah Shir Hadash of Ashland, Oregon and in the merit of our beloved Rabbi David Zaslow.
Thank you for who you are and all you have gifted us.
I love to be in the mountains, in nature where all sound belongs to the Earth and her creatures…from the wind shooshing through the pines high above to the nestlings of the moles and bugs below. In between are the streams, pouring down the mountain’s flank, the smell of loamy soil and dry lichen rising under the heat of the sun’s kiss, my own breathing. My soul opens up and drinks nourishment through my body. It is a blessing.
Creating these pieces in my studio takes me back to this communion in nature. So each piece is infused with that loving nourishment and peace. It’s a joy to create them. Pay Pal & Checks.
Not sure where this one came from. It just emerged…and it was a lot of fun to create! I loved spirograph as a child. This piece called for lots of different shapes and motion, a relationship of movement and strong color between the piecing and the thread painting. Spirograph used such neon colors. I always felt such joy as the colors created amazing shapes that interwove before my eyes, surprising me.
This small commission (approx. 14″ x 20″) was made as a wedding gift for people who love hiking and nature. Reports are it was received with delight.
This slide show offers some of the creation process, as well as the completed piece.
With Creation’s Sistine touch
Arcs Self to Self
Stephanie K. Nead, 2010
In dark clefts
Between towering walls of darkness
All seems lost
Vanquished from hope
Absorbed by black
Yet time passes
In my wilderness of night
Appears a shaft of light
My towering dungeon glows
Oranges, purples, reds
Nourishment as honey to my lips
Through water-worn canyon walls
Appears high heating sun
There all along
I had but to wait
For light to rise
And come ‘round again
I had but to wait
For the blessing of light
To know my Valley is not a trapped dungeon of despair
But a carefully carved path of earth
Blessing my night with color in forms of grace
A marvel of elemental communion
Blessed to know the dark
Stephanie K. Nead, 2010