Natasha Lehrer Lewis
I have a conviction about the world around me and the rural lifestyle I have come to hold dear. It is the vast and endless sky, the sweeping horizon, the feeling you have when you’ve completed a day’s work and you can look back with fulfillment and contentment. The warmth of the animals waiting out a cold winter, or the hope in a sprig of green unearthing in Spring. The shower of blessings that exists, sometimes unnoticed to our blinded eyes. It’s my goal as a fiber artist in rural America to capture some of that emotion and reflect it through my work.
In my pieces, I strive to build a foundation using materials that shape my core. My fibers come from local farms as well as our own flock, and I spend much time with my hands in the dye pot, letting the colors come to life. By keeping the materials connected to the land, I can broaden the depth and meaning of my pieces even more. When asked what my favorite technique is, I really cannot answer. I draw on all my skills to create just the effect I am looking for. Because I start at the source, I can control every facet of the process, spinning just the right texture, dyeing just the perfect shade, felting to just the specific drape, beading to the most precise detail.
My work is housed in a gallery inside my head. Ideas can come from countless inspirations, but I find myself drawing the most from life and faith and our journey. I’d like to present a cause in a way that opens your eyes to something you hadn’t seen before. Perhaps you’ll be inspired and impacted in some minute way to reach out. Yet at the end of the day, in all I do, it is my undying aspiration to echo the creativity of the Creator for others to see. That is my artistry and my calling.
I hope to inspire others at our fiber arts studio, Esther’s Place. Here people come to learn, share and be a part of the community of fiber enthusiasts. Through teaching, I strive to engage the next generation of artists in a life-long passion for creativity. My teaching efforts have taken me throughout the area, to groups, organizations and schools. Involvement in many organizations on the local, regional and national level has also been a key aspect of my outreach into the community. Fiber has, and continues to be a passion for me in every form it presents itself. I look to the future with excitement and anticipation for the creativity yet to come. Teaching venues have included libraries, guilds, and schools across the Midwest, as well as the Chicago Botanic Garden, Waubonsee Community College, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois Art Educators Conferences, and the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival.
My work has been exhibited in the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival Wearable Art Show 2015-2013 and awarded numerous awards. My pieces have been in the Handweaver’s Guild of America’s Convergence: Yardage, Mixed Media and Fashion Show Exhibits in Albuquerque 2010, Long Beach 2012 and Providence 2014. My art has been in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Fine Art of Fiber and Fashion Show 2015-2010. My international debut was “Verona Tessile” Verona, Italy in 2015, 2013 and 2011 and was awarded Best Use of Color for my piece “Past Presence” in 2011. I have participated in the Women’s Journey in Fiber in 2015 and 2014. Work has been in“Women’s Work” Woodstock, IL 2012-2009, “Next Gallery” St. Charles, IL 2012 and 2011, Norris Gallery “Vicinity” Show, and other various local exhibitions. Awards include the 2007 Business Ledger’s Young Entrepreneur and 2012 Illinois Alliance for the Arts Education Visual Artist Award. Esther’s Place was the recipient of two USDA grants in both 2006 and 2007.