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Fiberarts Studios

 

David Chatt
Seattle, Washington

I was #5 of six kids and was born to an arty clan. Our house was always busy and personal space was hard to come by, but even then I carved out a place for my projects. I would not have called it a “studio” then, but I had a big board that I placed on my bed where I built crazy houses out of Legos. It was humble, but it functioned in the same way as my big purple recliner does now. In my forty-six years, my studio has had many incarnations. It has been the dining room table in a shared apartment. It was once a chair placed by the only window in a tiny flat that has come to be known as the dumpster apartment. When I was employed as a cook at a summer camp for overprivileged children, my studio was a table in a screened-in cabin in the woods. I shared that cabin with many insects and several chipmunks. Regardless of where I have lived, I have always made a place to work. It is the first place I find when moving into a new home. I am not a hide-in-the-basement kind of artist; I figured out long ago that if making art is a priority, then find the best place, the place you most want to be, and put the working place there. Once that place has been claimed, the rest of my needs can duke it out for the other spots. A year ago, my partner Ron and I fulfilled a long-held dream when the bank bought a former church and is allowing us to live there and work on it in exchange for making monthly mortgage payments. My studio is now luxuriously large (about twice the size of the dumpster apartment) and again occupies the best spot in the house. It is filled with my materials and tools, but it is also a place for my favorite things and objects that inspire me. This makes for some strange couplings. In this room, you will find valuable family heirloom furniture covered in what anyone else would see as garbage. I, however, have started to see refuse that is cast to the street as fodder for art. I think of it as information or a record of a time and a place and the people who share my community. Now that it has become interesting to me, I comb sidewalks like some would comb a beach, finding and dragging home the detritus that has been left there. My studio is also home to a very old TV, a radio/CD player, no less than seven remote controls, a maniacal Dental Apparatus (the kind that gave children nightmares for most of the twentieth century), two terriers, two cats, any number of humans, my collections (hoops, corks, bottle caps, measuring sticks, balls, valve shutoff knobs, cabinets with little drawers, used stamps, globes, string, fake food, rubber bands), my mother’s beloved Frozen Charlotte doll collection, and at least five different projects in various states of completion. When we dreamed of the big house we would one day live in, our vision did not include cold drafts, financial panic, and nasty textured-glass replacement windows that are permanently dirty and impossible to see through, but life is a mixed bag. In time we will re-create this space in our own image. We have only just begun that process, but we didn’t even have a working shower before we installed two new all-wood, double-pane, “see-through” windows that I can look out of as I sit in my terrier-shared purple recliner, remote control in hand, bathed in heat from a carefully placed space heater, and sew tiny bits of glass one to the next.

 








Studio photos: Harriet Burger, Lynda Sherman, Ron Cole.

 

David Chatt, 108 Meditations in Saffron, 2006; glass seed beads, thread, found objects, single-needle right-angle weave; 26" x 33" x 4". Photo: Harriet Burger.

David Chatt was featured in Fiberarts in our November/December 2004 issue.

Website: www.davidchatt.com.

 


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