Meet the maker: Bethany Garner, fibre artist

By Abigail Beckett

Meet Bethany Garner, fibre artist

A unique sector of Kingston’s artistic community is the world of textile art. This artistic niche includes anything from fibre art to weaving and spinning.

Photo credit: Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning

Discover work from Kingston’s established fibre artist Bethany Garner and her advice to young artists. Bethany has been creating art for much of her life and continues to find inspiration wherever she is. She enjoys sharing her craft with others by teaching workshops and taking on students.

Bethany Garner: Fibre Artist

Bethany Garner is a local fibre artist in Kingston. She has a long history of both creating and teaching art in the Kingston area and beyond. Bethany has traveled across Canada, the US, and the UK sharing her knowledge and her passion for art.

Bethany has graduate education in textile design, typography, cartography, and photography. She has been an instructor at the St. Lawrence College Textile and Arts Program for 22 years and has been the owner and director of the FIBREWORKS Kingston Weekend Workshops Program since 2015. While she currently lives just outside of Kingston, Bethany is originally from Michigan. She was first introduced to crafting by her grandmothers who were skilled sewers.

Bethany describes her artistic style to be contemporary and fine art-focused. She utilizes abstract design, colour, contrast, and relationship value to create unique pieces with original dyed and painted fabrics. She describes her pieces to be simple enough to entice someone to get close to it, and exciting enough to consider collecting. Her style was not always contemporary, and she has changed her approach over the years discovering new ways to create. Bethany is always keen on challenging herself and creating new pieces and often learns new things during the design process. Although she enjoys creating, her first priority is education and sharing with her students.

Bethany enjoys hiking and being outdoors. Much of her inspiration stems from nature and is reflected in her artwork. Whether it be woodlands, lakes, rivers, or wetlands, Bethany finds both comfort and inspiration in the natural world.

The camp she just wrapped up had 26 women from all over Ontario and from Quebec. For a week they worked on several different projects using techniques like flat dying, monoprinting, and rust dying. Everything starts as white cloth which is then dyed to create colourful patterns and designs. Bethany also teaches these techniques at workshops at the Tett Centre.

Bethany uses a variety of innovative techniques and is always exploring new ways of doing things. She often suggests moving away from patterns and instructions and embracing the experimental process. One method that is particularly intriguing is ice dying or snow dying. After the material is wrapped up and placed in a colander, snow is placed on top, and dye on top of the snow. While the snow melts, the dye creates a pattern on the material.

Bethany says that the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, where she has been for many years now, is a warm and welcoming environment with a great support system. The Kingston community is full of support networks and resources that continues to grow. Her advice to young artists is to develop their own vision of the world they live in. “Find things that excite you, calm you, and explore how colour can affect your mood to create,” she says.

Bethany also participates in quilt restoration and conservation. For over 30 years she has provided quilt documentation, conservation, and educational services for the Arts and Quilt Guilds, groups, private individuals, private and corporate collectors, and museums as the Director of the Eastern Ontario Quilt Documentation Project.

Bethany is part of Kingston’s Tett Centre as a Creativity Studio Artist resident. To find out more about Bethany’s list of workshops visit her website for details on classes and dates. She is also a local authorized dealer for Ashford Wheels and Looms.

Bethany has a series of collections and exhibitions both within and outside of Canada. Some of her permanent collections include the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky and the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her Canadian exhibitions include Connections Fibre Artists Exhibitions, Wellington County Museum, Kitchener City Hall, and THREADWORKS.

Stop by Bethany’s studio space at the Tett Centre and get inspired by this local fibre artist or visit her blog for current workshops.