Nov 19, 2013
01:11 PM
Style & Design

Connecticut Artist Wins Global Rug Design Competition in Sweden

Connecticut Artist Wins Global Rug Design Competition in Sweden

Deborah Velasquez's third-place winning design in the CarpetVista competition. The Barkhamsted artist also won first place.

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A recent story in The Financial Times about an exhibit of works by James Abbott McNeill Whistler contained the following snippet in reference to the case in which Whistler sued art critic John Ruskin for libel—for saying Whistler could not paint: “A nocturne, [Whistler] told the judge, ‘is an arrangement of line, form and colour first. As to what it represents, that depends on who looks at it. To some persons it may represent all that I intended; to others it may represent nothing.’”

Deborah Velasquez, the Barkhamsted artist who recently began renting a studio at the Farmington Valley Arts Center (FVAC) in Avon on a shared basis with her friend, mentor and fellow artist Pia Sjölin, is not a latter-day Whistler, or even obviously influenced by the 19th-century artist who painted London in the fog, and the dark, in a way that turned out to be as brilliant as Ruskin thought it was useless—while also paving the path toward pure, unfettered abstraction. (Above, Velasquez in her FVAC studio; photo by Laurie Gaboardi.)

But Whistler’s quote still comes to mind when thinking of Velasquez’s broad range of artistic pursuits. What she does first is arrange line, form and color, and what results can be one thing to one viewer and quite another thing to another.

That makes the artist versatile, and difficult to pigeonhole.

She used to make gorgeous designer hats and even had a trunk show at Henri Bendel. She crafts ornaments for holiday trees, and she has designed a cool and creative T-shirt for children that features the alphabet—upside down so they can read it.

So Velasquez is a sort of artisan designer/crafter, right? Fractionally correct, perhaps.

She also paints, and makes block prints, of images that are typically very stylized and often abstract, and those ripple into other applied-design existences, which makes her a fine artist at heart whose entrepreneurial spirit knows no boundaries when it comes to mediums or crossover appeal.

Her images show up on cards, she’s in talks with fabric companies, and hoping to nail down a contract for a design that would show up on a mobile phone case—and she talks about the type of artistry in the digital age that could lead to her images being used in print-on-demand fashion to make one-of-a-kind shower curtains and pillows. (Above a map of a section of Barkhamsted by Velasquez.)

“I think of myself as a brand because I design so many things and I make so many things,” Velasquez said in a chat recently in her FVAC studio, where Sjölin—who has created collections in both art glass and tableware—was preparing and packing for an exhibit of her Venetian plaster paintings in her homeland, Sweden.

In a bit of art world karma, Sjölin’s show, entitled “My Love to Color,” runs from Nov. 30 to Jan. 12 at the Gallery David Hall in Malmö, Sweden—the very town at the heart of the narrative about Velasquez’s latest triumph, the one that should propel her forward in the arts discipline she now favors, designing for home décor.

Velasquez was recently chosen as the winner of the global carpet design competition sponsored by CarpetVista of Malmö. (Above, her first-place-winning design.)

According to a release, a record breaking number of designs were submitted to this year’s annual CarpetVista Design Competition—580 designs from 60 countries were selected by a jury and displayed in the competition’s design gallery. Visitors to the gallery were able to vote for their favorite designs, and then 37 winners were selected, the release said.

“This year’s winners are a mixture of both well-established designers as well as unestablished upcoming talents, ranging from all ages and corners of the globe. We are extremely proud to be able to present 37 fantastic designers as our winners,” Alexandra Thaulow, the lead coordinator of the competition, said in the release.

Connecticut Artist Wins Global Rug Design Competition in Sweden

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