Deborah Kruger

Wandering in the Desert

My year of R&D

Every summer I jury a couple hundred applications for the 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency Program. One note I frequently write on applications: work and statement both strong but not integrated. One day I snapped to attention because I realized that my pieces were guilty of this too.

I stopped making the work I’d been building for the last fifteen years and began to search for a better integration of the content and form of my feathers.

Early on I printed details of my previous work on linen. The resulting feathers looked flat and dead. I moved on to printing images and text about endangered birds on sheets of fused plastic bags using an Epson 3000 digital printer. The machine was way too persnickety and it was clear it could never keep up with feather production.

Finally I returned to my roots and began silk-screening just like the old days when I was a textile designer. Much experimentation was required to work out the kinks of priming, ink flow and over-printing.

It took a full year to work through the research and technical details. The resulting feathers were embedded with visual and written information about habitat destruction, endangered and extinct birds, migration and endangered languages.

There were times I felt completely lost and hopeless and that I was wasting my time. However, faith in the creative process carried me through. After a lifetime making art, I have learned that pushing through the narrow places always pays off. I am delighted with my new feathers and feel that I accomplished what I set out to cure: marrying content and form. Let me know if you agree.