Alum Catherine Stern Puts Silky Finish on Spiritual Textiles

Friday, September 28, 2018

J. (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Stern’s interest in textiles began early in life, long before her creative turn toward spiritual text and images. In high school, she got her hands on a loom and decided to study textile art and woodworking at San Francisco State, where she began her experimentation with hand-dyed silk.

“I’m often inspired by words from Jewish prayers, stories and text, and pair them with images, from many sources,” says Stern, an East Bay textile artist whose work is being shown at the Osher Marin JCC through the end of the year. “The words lead me to research, to read and listen, and finally to dream until the pieces tell me what they want to become.”

The exhibit, Sh’ma: Stories in Silk, features hand-dyed silk pieces that she has imprinted with images and text from the biblical Song of Songs and other passages of sacred text. Inspired by the luminosity of ancient glass — another art medium Stern has explored — the work also incorporates visual elements from Islamic design and tile work, and pays homage to the Gustav Klimt decorative aesthetic with her use of gold.