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Woman weaves a world of wonder with colorful baskets, vortexes

Kaia Crowell to display her work at Main Street Mercantile


by: STAFF PHOTO BY JIM CLARK - Kaia Crowell poses with some of the pieces she display at her Gresham show on June 30.Kaia Crowell doesn't mind if you put fake flowers or newspapers in her reed baskets.

But before you do, you might want to take a closer look at them - they're a lot more interesting than anything you'd pick up at a furniture store or grocery outlet.

To look at a Crowell creation is to enter a world of asymmetrical beauty, where traditional basket designs take on a surreal, fluid quality, inlaid with beads and other items.

Crowell also creates woven art she calls "vortexes" that frame masks and other objects, as if her weavings are the petals of exotic flowers.

"I really enjoy the flexibility of it," she says of her craft. "I enjoy the 3D aspect of it. It's very meditative and creative."

Crowell will display a selection of her creations at Main Street Mercantile, 112 N. Main Ave., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 30.

by: STAFF PHOTO BY JIM CLARK -  Earths Wave captures the fluid motion of lifes reverberating undercurrent. The teak wood brings a grounded warmth to this piece along with copper and turquoise beads, Crowell says. An Oregon native, she and her husband, Robert Crowell, a jazz saxophonist and instructor at Mt. Hood Community College, live in Gresham where she has a home office called Full Circle Studios.

Crowell, 37, graduated from Mt. Hood in 1994 and attended New York University, and is the daughter of Betty Kaufmann, herself a noted weaver artist in Sedona, Ariz.

In addition to her artwork, Crowell works as a life coach, organizational designer and jazz vocalist.

She collaborates with Charles Lowrie, an internationally known glass artist who works in Oregon and Hawaii, and who has created centerpieces for her vortexes.

The multi-colored vortexes often frame a mask Lowrie has created, and evoke different reactions in viewers.

"What do you see?" Crowell will ask her viewers. "My dreams," some answer. Others will say, "traveling through time," or "my ancestors."

It usually takes her about 40 hours to create a piece, she says, adding she thinks her approach to weaving, as well as her mother's, is distinguished by its beauty more than its functionality.

"It's kind of its own new category of art," she says. "I think art lovers will be highly intrigued and compelled by it."



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