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Helen Klebesadel

I am actually a painter and educator who paints and teaches about fiber arts along with all the other arts.  Most  recently I have begun actually designing fabrics myself, using my watercolor paintings as a base.

One series of watercolor paintings I have celebrates the quilts and crochet pieces that were the  under-recognized creative work  of the rural women in my family when I was 'coming up' in Wisconsin.  I especially love crazy quilts, and paint the quilts I wish I owned.

 I have an Etsy store for my paintings and prints (  as well as in the virtual gallery, and I currently sell my fabrics on  I'm delighted to have a small and growing following of quilters using my fabrics, which has a nice 'full-circle' feel to it for me.

My work is available at Grace Chosy Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin and I welcome visits by appointment at my studio, Helen Klebesadel Studio, also in Madison, Wisconsin.

Artist's Statement: "My visual concerns run the gamut from careful study to poetic, symbolic and sometimes political representations of nature and human nature.”

Helen Klebesadel is an artist, an educator, and an activist.  Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, her art has become the place where she explores how we learn our deepest values.   Klebesadel is best known for her environmental and women centered watercolors. She is particularly interested in how myths and stories socialize us to have different expectations for some people than from others.  She uses the creative process to re-examine and re-present narratives that resist and contest existing power structures by revealing they exist.  Klebesadel exhibits her work nationally and internationally.

Helen’s watercolors push the traditional boundaries of the medium in scale, content, and technique.   Her paintings range in size from the intimate to the monumental. She creates paintings that are transparent watercolors on paper, starting with detailed drawings and developing the images with layer upon layer of color washes and dry brush technique mixed with occasional areas of wet-into-wet spontaneity.  She paints until the paintings tell her she is done.  Most recently she has begun transforming her images into fabric designs and she is exploring the potential  of a merger of her imagery with fiber based works.

Helen Klebesadel earned her BS, a certificate in Women’s Studies, and a MFA in art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has taught courses and workshops on creativity, studio art, and the contemporary women’s art movement for two decades.  Klebesadel continues to learn from her art experiences and her students.  Helen taught studio art at Lawrence University for ten years before leaving to become Director of the University of Wisconsin System’s Women’s Studies Consortium in 2000. She contributed a chapter entitled Re-Framing Studio Art Critique and Practice, to the recently published text ‘New Museum Theory and Practice: An Introduction.  Klebesadel’s art and prose have been published in Femspec, Frontiers, Feminist Studies, Interweave, and CALYX.  She is a past national president of the national Women’s Caucus for Art and a current Wisconsin Arts Board member.

"Prairie" Designer Fabric by Helen Klebesadel

Location:  Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Online Shops: 
   Niceharpy  (Etsy)
   klebesadel  (Artful Home)
   helenklebesadel  (Spoonflower)
   hklebesadel  (Zazzle)
Other Social Media:  Twitter 
   College Art Association
   Women's Caucus for Art
   National Women's Studies Association
Languages spoken: English

Watercolor Quilt Series

Sample Fabric Designs Available on Spoonflower

Tags: watercolor, quilts, spoonflower, feminist, women's studies, rural, crochet, painting, material culture

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“Drive a nail home and clinch it so faithfully that you can wake up in the night and think of your work with satisfaction,- a work at which you would not be ashamed to invoke the Muse”
-Henry David Thoreau

In our case, it would be the needle or other fiber tool. Drive it home! And, we all thank you for your words, left here to these good folks. Invoke your Muse!


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