Today, we’d like to introduce you to Woolpunk. Woolpunk was introduced to us by the one and only Katie Niewodowski.
Can you walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Currently, I am the Director of Cultural Affairs and of the Benjamin J. Dineen, III & Dennis C. Hull Gallery at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, New Jersey. The College’s gallery is located in the Gabert Library across from the Journal Square transportation hub, with gallery views of Manhattan. Currently, I have work featured in an outdoor exhibition, ReGrowth, curated by Karin Bravin in Riverside Park in NYC. Additionally, my work was inducted into the permanent collection of the Montclair Art Museum and is on view in a recent acquisitions exhibition.
My grandparents emigrated from Italy. My grandfather’s sisters studied lacemaking in Roma. My paternal grandmother was a dressmaker. Once she came to America, she sewed American flags for a living. I always knew textiles and hand-stitching were special. When I went on to graduate school, I received the support I needed from artists like Emma Amos and Martha Rosler to create work that I feel passionate about. I make art for everyday people who live and work in America. Many times, the focus is on acknowledging the politics that affect our daily life.
I always loved working in galleries. I interned at the Washington Projects for the Arts and on installations at the Smithsonian American History and the Arthur M. Sackler Museums. I also spent a year volunteering on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. These experiences taught me how to professionally install exhibits, care for gallery facilities, and how to teach art. Presently, my work at Hudson County Community College reflects what I learned over time working in various arts industries.
Please talk to us about your creative work and career. What should we know?
I am Woolpunk on all media platforms, but I am most active on Instagram. I was trademarked back in 2020 and when exhibiting I am featured as such. My website is www.woolpunk.com. I have been creating work for over two decades that explores using textiles and fibers in unique ways. Woolpunk carries the punk spirit not only in the making but in the meaning and the message. I use a variety of different hand-stitching techniques to create sculptures, fiber-infused photos, and large-scale indoor and outdoor installations. My work has been exhibited both in America and abroad, and has exhibited with the Monira Foundation, the Art & Social Activism Festival, and was a featured in Bravin Lee’s Essential Artist series in 2020.
Katie Niewodowski has been a great friend to us and I know you’ve got a great relationship as well. Maybe you can tell our audience a bit about Katie and your experience with them.
I actually saw both Niewodowski’s work as an artist and her student’s work at the College before meeting her. I found both really interesting and impressive. It was what made me want to highlight her as a “Teacher as Artist”, a highly respected exhibition program that rotates per semester at both college libraries. I believe that she possesses many special skills to inspire people and this is exemplified in her daily life whether she is leading others to create or making work herself.
I recently took a drawing class led by Niewodowski. It was amazing to watch her approach to mark-making. She, to me, is half-biologist and half-magician. She uses both analytical and emotional skills to assess and create. You can feel this when looking at her work. The outcome is mesmerizing.
Niewodowski effortlessly floats through almost any medium with an abundance of energy, skill, and expression. Color, pattern, and textures are applied and layered almost scientifically. The works fluctuate from sci-fi fantasy to eclectic sea creatures. She skillfully presents the idea that the viewer is traveling through space and time when experiencing her sculptures and drawings.
Linkedin: Michelle Vitale
Other: tiktok: woolpunk_og,
Photos 5 & 6, Megan Maloy