Kate Brandes ©Armen Elliott photography (44 of 44)

Photo by Armen Elliott

As a writer and artist, I’m interested in the confluence of stories and visual art, often through the perspective of the natural world. I like to blend personal stories and artwork together. For example, in collaboration with Lauren Kindle,  I’ve painted portraits of strangers and their stories for a project called Intersections.

Seams: A Paper Quilt Project, Women Scientists and Artists

I’m currently at work on a project called “Seams,” which is a series of narrative paper quilts made of thread, paper, and watercolor. This project is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

This series is inspired by six women who, like me, are both artists and scientists. The pieces from this series connect to the natural world and draw on textile traditions of sharing life experiences. I’m interested in creating stimulating visual work that generates broader conversations about the connections between art and science, and particularly about the value of cross-pollinating ideas in order to expand one’s own sense of possibility. My intention in creating the quilt series is to show commonality through shared perceptions. This project, at its heart, is about identity gained through breaking barriers. Each art quilt incorporates themes from nature to accentuate shared experiences.

For the paper quilts, I’m working primarily with an uneven nine-block quilting pattern to make nine different small art quilts that will be displayed as a collective work. I see quilting as a deeply personal art form used to express experiences, imagery, and ideas. I’ve chosen to work with paper because it’s a flexible medium that serves new and mature ideas equally well. The work is fragmented, patch-worked, patterned, and layered. Each of nine individual blocks composing one art quilt is hand painted and/or sewn. The quilts are hand-stitched and will include traditional stitches (the backstitch and zigzag). They will be bordered with kantha stitch motifs, which are done free hand.


A piece of the paper quilt.

A piece of the paper quilt.

I began work on the project in late 2016 by interviewing six local women who are both artists and scientists (or mathematicians). Some of these women are self-taught either in the arts or the sciences, but each has done meaningful work in both fields. I’ve chosen to draw inspiration from local women to help emphasize accessibility and possibility. These women include the following::

Click on the links above to see interviews with each of these women. The interviews were done informally and so they have an organic feel. (Note that Jenn Rossmann has requested her interview be kept private.)

In addition to the six art quilts inspired by interviews with these women, the series includes two community response quilt pieces. I began each of these two pieces in winter 2017 and then hung them unfinished at Nurture Nature Center in Easton, PA, in April 2017.

One of these two art quilts is a stitched tree. The other has elements of wind. I began these two quilts by asking the six women I’d interviewed one question related to each response quilt.

For the tree: Describe yourself in three words.

For the wind: I would like to be more ________.

I added their responses as leaves to the tree and flower petals for the wind-related quilt. During the show at Nurture Nature Center, people were invited to respond to these same questions, anonymously. The community responses will be stitched into these two art quilts to complete them.

The ninth and final art quilt in the series will be constructed based on my personal experience as an artist and scientist as well as my interviews with the other women inspiring the project and the experience of creating the quilt series. This final piece will be a kind of culmination art quilt for the project. 

The Seams Project will be completed in Spring 2018.


  • 2016 New Hope Art League 7th Annual Juried Show (honorable mention)

  • 2016 Joint exhibition of Intersections Show (with project collaborator, Lauren Kindle), Quadrant Book Shop, Easton, PA

  • 2015 Solo exhibition, Cosmic Cup Café, Easton, PA

  • 2015 Bucks Fever Juried Art Exhibition, Warrington, PA

 Some of my other paintings are shown below. If you’d like to purchase an original please contact me directly.