First-time visitors looking for the house of world-renowned fibre artist, Kay Sekimachi, might head to the typical Californian modernist house – it’s the only one that stands out on the otherwise nondescript Berkeley street. It must have happened before and hence she gives careful directions to head for the yellow-fronted duplex, sandwiched between bungalows and two-storey craftsman-style houses. Sekimachi opens the door, all five feet (at the most) of her and, though straight off a plane home from New Mexico – where she opened a show as part of…
A web she weaved
Kay Sekimachi was born in San Francisco in 1926. She grew up in Berkeley, spent a year at Berkeley High and was then relocated during the Second World War to the Tanforan Assembly Center. It was there that she first took art classes, which she continued at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine under the tutelage of Jack Lenor Larsen.
After coming back to California, she spent her last $150 on a loom and took up weaving. In the 1960s, California galleries started to take notice, individual collectors began buying her work and in the 1980s and ’90s she was recognised by museums as one of the country’s eminent fibre artists.
Her work has encompassed loom weaving, monofilament work and paper sculpture, and continues to push the boundaries of what fibre and thread and fabric can become. Her work has appeared in craft-focused exhibitions, books and biennales all over the world – and it continues to be published, exhibited and lived with.