Watching colors and images flicker across the screen, and then suddenly being able to identify shapes as a brief scene comes into the frame: this is the art of Kate Nartker, an assistant professor of textiles and apparel at NC State, whose multimedia work provides a sense of animation rendered into fabric.
Nartker said her experience with textiles began early. She recalled her childhood with her grandmother who first taught her how to sew. Since then, Nartker hasn’t been able to stay away from art, although she saw it as more of a hobby at first.
“I went to Ohio State for my undergraduate degree,” Nartker said. “I didn't major in art, even though I was always kind of working on art projects, and it wasn't until later on that I realized that you could really pursue textiles in the field of art.”
After graduating from Ohio State with a degree in comparative studies, Narkter spent time at San Francisco State University as part of the apparel arts program, which helped sharpen her skills and deepen her understanding of textiles. Nartker also said the apparel arts program is what made her realize her passion for textiles and inspired her pursuit of a Master of Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts. It was there that Nartker began to focus on mixing weaving and animation into her art.
Nartker’s work consists of both still and animated textile pieces. She said her inspiration for her animated collections stems from her father’s profession as a photojournalist. Narkter said the many VHS tapes her father had on hand served as her introduction to her animation style, but now her style has developed even further.
Nartker now uses her knowledge of textiles and her fondness of animation to create her work.
“I want to almost very simply see how something looks when it's moving, and I like these moments when it sort of goes in and out of abstraction,” Narkter said. “So lately, I've been thinking about how I can use the loom almost as a camera”
By mixing film and weaving mediums, which Nartker refers to as woven rotoscoping, an animation technique whereby images are woven frame by frame over video footage, she provides a distinct style to her work that melds old and new artistic mediums to create a dreamlike art piece.
In her role now as an assistant professor of both textile and apparel, as well as technology and management at NC State, Nartker has to innovate while teaching her usually tactile textile classes virtually rather than in person. In discussing how her classes changed to adapt to COVID-19, Nartker described one of the weaving courses she taught last semester, which she used as inspiration for a new class that focused on tapestry weaving.
Despite having to overcome the obvious challenges of COVID-19, Nartker said she has been delighted to be a part of a smaller department that allows her to develop more personal relationships with her students.
Students who want to learn more about Kate Nartker’s work can visit her website.