June’s featured artist is Boston-based Britt Fabello. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2012, Britt has developed a practice focused on textural hand-sewn pieces. Her work explores themes in nature and the human spirit, and is often inspired by her travels around the world. Britt says that she feels that the aim of her art is to unite the unseen energy created through and around us with the tactile world.
After completing a recent 30-piece commission with our Vegas team (photos here are all from that collection), we want to reach out to Britt to feature her work this month because of the homey, welcoming quality to many of her pieces. In addition to the Q & A below, you can see her new featured artist page now live on our website.
Q: For those who aren’t familiar with your work, how would you describe your artwork?
Britt Fabello: As a natural observer, my work is a direct response to my surroundings. Natural forms come through using a mix of geometric and organic compositions while hand-sewing into cotton paper. Each piece captures time and movement from a memory linked to a specific feeling or place. The neutral colors and soft textures evoke calm and inspire us to care for each other and our natural environment.
Q: When did you first learn to sew and what first drew you to fiber arts?
Britt Fabello: I learned basic hand sewing techniques when I was younger—some from my Mom and some from taking a sewing class at summer camp. I enjoyed making pillows or fixing up my clothes. In college, I took those techniques and began to play with sewing into paper. I felt drawn to the idea knowing it would add texture and depth—that you could touch the thread and feel it raised against the paper. But it wasn’t until years later that I started to finally take the pull towards fiber arts seriously. I first explored sewing into my drawings, then into paintings, before removing those mediums to see what the thread could do on its own. At that point I was hooked.
Q: You create your works in a neutral color scheme. What is it about a neutral palette that inspires you creatively?
Britt Fabello: The neutral color palette is highly intentional on a few levels. In the early exploration stages of sewing into my drawings and paintings, I realized when using neutral colors, my eyes were drawn toward the texture the thread was creating rather than the color of the thread. Removing the different colors challenges me to focus on the texture and think about the direction of the stitches—how that adds depth, enhances the composition, etc. And from an aesthetic perspective, the neutral palette highlights the calming themes consistent in my work.
Q: You recently worked with KBFA on a commissioned set of 30 pieces for a residential project. Tell us a little about the experience and the pieces you created for the commission.
Britt Fabello: It was my largest-scale commission to date, making it a new segment of my career to tackle. Since the 30 pieces will be displayed in a grid, it was important that they worked together as a whole. As I sketched their compositions out, I began to think of the 30 pieces as one piece and aimed to create balance within that context. But it was also equally important for each of them to be successful individually so they could be displayed in other ways if needed. I drew inspiration from somewhere I knew I had plenty to pull from: Italy. The pieces tell a story of travel through Rome, Tuscany, and Cinque Terre. There are lots of arches, hills, cliffs, vineyards and more that are seen throughout the collection.
Q: Apart from your recent work with us, you do quite a few commissions. Can you share the story behind a recent commission that was particularly memorable?
Britt Fabello: I try to find a balance between commissions and creating my own work. Commissions are a great way to push myself to create visuals based on other people’s thoughts or experiences rather than my own—which in itself is a beautiful way to expand our minds. A recent one was in celebration of a wedding anniversary. The husband commissioned a piece that brought together a few places that were special to their relationship. We also worked with the idea of embodying the feelings they have toward each other. The end result was a beautiful hand-sewn arch with overlapping hills looking into a future with a partner that enhanced life to a new level. It felt really special to create that for them to hold onto.
Q: Prior to the world turning upside down, you had made a pretty big move from the UK back to the States where you’re originally from. Tell us a little about your decision to make that move, how living in England inspired you, and about the UK Collection that came out of it?
Britt Fabello: I lived in London for about five years. My goal there was to step out of my comfort zone and also travel as much as possible. I grew up in a small town, so even moving to Boston after college was intimidating to me. But I found my way and settled in. Moving to London took that all up a notch (or two). At first, it was a huge challenge for me to live in such a large city, but like Boston, I settled in and eventually felt like I knew it like the back of my hand. During that time, I also was pushing myself to travel through Europe and some of Africa. After returning and having Boston as my backdrop again, I can see how deeply I needed to spend those years away. I learned a lot about myself and really dove into exploring who I was as an artist. It gave me the confidence I needed and opened my mind in ways I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. My first collection of work after moving back focused on the first half of my time in London. The pieces feel like love letters to my days spent there and the memories I hold close.
Q: Now that you’re back in your native New England, where do you find your inspiration taking you creatively now?
Britt Fabello: I’m spending more time in nature here and I’m seeing my mind starting to shift to reflect that. Patterns and shapes translated from the rocky coast, the ocean’s tide, and the layered mountains are starting to become more present as I think about what’s next.
Q: Now, just for fun: what is something that inspires you creatively that you think people would be surprised by?
Britt Fabello: People often can often clearly see the visuals I am inspired by, but I also pull from other senses to truly capture the feeling of a place. From the lighting, the peaceful in-between moments, and human connections; these are all layers that also go into the creation of my art.
Q: You clearly love to travel, so where’s the next place on your travel to do list that you want to explore whenever that becomes possible again?
Britt Fabello: One of the main reasons I was excited to move back to the US was to have a new travel base. I want to see more of the country I was born in and to make my way further into Central and South America. I took this all for granted before moving away. It’ll be fun to get out there again with a new mindset. I have a trip booked to Mexico in the fall (that may or may not happen now) to spend some time in Mexico City and Oaxaca. I’m really looking forward to going there (then or someday) to see the artistry, the lively culture, and eat lots of good food.