VAC welcomes Florence artist Kathy Elfers

Felt work by Florence artist Kathy Elfers is on display in the Coast Oregon Visual Artist Showcase at the Newport Visual Arts Center through Jan. 26. (Courtesy photo)

The Oregon Coast Council for Arts welcomes Florence artist Kathy Elfers and her exhibition, “Out of the Box: Contemporary Design in Felt Making.”

Elfers’ exhibit is on display in the Coast Oregon Visual Artist Showcase (COVAS) through Jan. 26 at the Newport Visual Arts Center. Elfers works in the styles of wet felting, needle felting and Nuno felting, and she will present wall hangings, wall sculpture and 3D objects, some incorporating mixed media.

The COVAS Showcase features mid-career artists living on the Oregon coast, and it rotates artists from throughout Oregon’s seven coastal counties.

Having lived in Florence for the past 10 years, Elfers will be representing coastal Lane County. She is a native Oregonian, born and raised in Corvallis, and spent several years in Central Oregon before moving to Florence.

“In 1999, I watched a group of students making felted hats. Fascinated by the process, I took the class with Gin DeCamp and fell in love with the art form,” Elfers said. “It was magical to lay the loose felt fiber, add soap and start rubbing. Within a short time, I could feel the fiber beginning to bind and tangle on itself. The combination of traditional and modern techniques, and experimenting with various fibers, allows me to create a multitude of visual and textural effect.”

Elfers studied graphic arts for two years at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. From there, she moved to Bend and pursued her studies in primitive cultures and archeology. Influenced by native designs, she worked with deer and elk leather, creating traditional and contemporary art and clothing, before turning her full attention to felting.

Wet felting, Elfers’ preferred method, dates back to 6,500-3,000 BC, while needle felting and Nuno felting are more modern forms. Elfers works in all three styles and enjoys combining the techniques to create her original works.

“It’s very important that I make my contribution in preserving these ancient skills and traditions,” Elfers said. “I consider myself a keeper of the felting tradition. As with an antique, it is my responsibility to preserve and protect, and then pass it on to the next generation.

Elfers is also a felt instructor and co-founder of the Siuslaw Fiber Arts Group. She has won numerous awards at fiber art shows, including the Black Sheep Gathering and the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. Her work can currently be seen at Backstreet Gallery in Florence, Mindpower Gallery in Reedsport, and Latigo and Lace in Augusta, Mont.

The COVAS Showcase is open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m. The Newport Visual Arts Center is located at 777 NW Beach Drive.