Contemporary Geometric Beadwork

Kris Empting-Obenland, Kate McKinnon, Sam Norgard
Contemporary Geometric Beadwork
Kris Emtping-Obenland is a professional bead artist from Germany, and Kate McKinnon leads the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork team from the USA.

Kris says, "Beads are my passion. I like to compare them with Lego: you can build anything with beads. I'm using different stitching techniques depending on the construction I want to achieve. Otherwise it's just thread and beads - seed beads mainly - that help me bring my fantasies to life. I draw a lot of inspiration from geometry. I love how repeating strong geometric shapes over and over again create organic textures and optics."

Kate says, "When I first saw the Moths bangle by Kris, I wanted to create a cloak covered in butterflies that showed this kind of clustering. I was crafting the first butterflies by casting them off of the edges of an open set of 3-faced mirror tetrahedra I happened to have on hand. Imagine my surprise when I saw the neckpiece by Kris and it was the triangles of the moths, loosely structured into lots and lots of incomplete tetrahedra.

I felt this collaboration already existed, and I was simply fulfilling it by dreaming the cloak.


Sam Norgard is a professor and artist at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and her team in Nova Scotia will be creating a series of the butterflies for the cloak.
Moths bangle
glass beads and thread
2014
A collection of moth-forms to wear around the wrist.

The distribution of moths on logs, butterflies on trees, and leaves in the forest all turn out to be ruled by the kind of symmetry that assures space and light for all. In these pieces, Kris has explored not only the distribution of the individuals but also the idea that butterflies and moths have an uncanny way of folding up to resemble parts of tetrahedrons. This resonates well with the way that the butterflies are being created for the cloak, because Kate is using the edges of open (flat) tetrahedra to cast them off.
Ripply
glass beads and thread
2014
This geometric piece shows the concept of the gathered moths as sections of tetrahedra, and shows one of the ways that butterflies and moths clluster on rocks and trees while migrating.
Cloak of Butterflies
glass beads, thread, fabric
2019
A sheer cloak of clustered, waking butterflies in a natural distribution. The elements will be crafted by hundreds of beaders around the world and assembled by Kate and the team for the show. The sketch shown is the attitude we will look for in our butterflies; wings alert, distribution natural, preparing for the first flight of the day.