Diversity - Kaije Feenstra

Kaije Feenstra's lifelong passion for drawing shines through in her work, evident in her fluid lines and clear articulation of form both in drawings and three-dimensional objects. Her love of nature's diversity of colour, texture and form as well as her interest for biology and natural science is also inherent in her art practice. Through her work, she explores the links that bind humans to one another and to the natural world. She weaves together lines between nature, art and science and discovers similarities. For example, her interest of coils as a visual element shows in both the rendering of curling plant stalks, in a spine-like string sculpture and in the clay tongue of an ant-eater, underlining an interconnectedness both in the natural world and in her work.

In a recently completed project, the series Pencil and Coffee, she has used the medium of pen, water colour and coffee to put her unfiltered ideas, inspirations and observations on paper. In these drawings she captures fleeting moments or the slow passage of time in nature, letting birds, trees and other natural elements intertwine with human silhouettes. Since drawing is a very direct medium, it allows her to work fast and quickly move from an idea to realisation. At times, the sepia colour of coffee adds a nostalgic feeling to the pictures, which ties together with the notion of nature being a sounding board for our feelings and memories.

Feenstra's work has over time evolved from a two-dimensional expression to a sculptural and tactile art practice, where elements such as balance, geometry and structure form the basis of her visual vocabulary. The physicality of working with fibre, thread and ceramics is an essential component in shaping her ideas. She combines her initial plans with elements of chance and enjoyment of the surprising variations that sometimes arise from the process.

She currently works in two parallel exploratory lines; one of them is a formal investigation of dichotomies such as geometric/organic form, lightness/weight and positive/negative space in abstract wall sculptures and installations. In these works she uses different types of textile, rope and string together with square blocks of fabric-covered wood as counterbalance to the flowing, organic shapes.

The works included are often meditations on the properties of rope and string, which are some of Feenstra's preferred materials. Rope and string can both be objects in their own right and function as lines in space. In some works, Feenstra focuses on their formal qualities as lines - for example in grids or nets - and in others she gives them body and volume by unravelling or knotting them. The works are deliberately open enough to invite the viewers into the process, allowing them to engage in visual thinking and closure, creating their own emotional dimension to the piece.

A parallel to this is another more playful body of work; series of organic and figural sculptures poetically based on Darwin’s theory of evolution. One of these series is called Tribes and presents groups of figures arranged in tableaus with reference to different aspects of the evolutionary theory. The figures are made of canvas sewn into shapes and filled with grit, and each one is different from the others, unique despite being part of a series. They all have different characteristics, and the viewer quickly ascribes personalities and human traits to them. The figures themselves are evolving, sprouting ears of yarn and eyes of ceramics, and they tell stories about natural systems within a frame of social contexts. The work is an ongoing process, symbolic of the cycles of life and the forces of growth and change in nature as well as in human conditions whether we are united in groups or standing alone.

Through her diverse works, Kaije Feenstra invites the viewers to explore the shapes, textures and energy that fill her compositions and to consider their own connections to the larger world; humans are part of nature's vast diversity, made from the same basic elements as everything around us, and Feenstra underlines this by showing us that we are all cut from the same cloth.