Helga Schwarten, Lake Bluff, IL
The earth speaks to me.
As designer - weaver - basket maker, I rely on nature’s inspiration to prompt me ... I let the natural materials at hand direct me and lead the creative bend my work will take.
As painter, I began by painting flowers ... they intrigued and made me smile. More currently, my work reflects a sense of place and personal connection. Each piece is part of a life story ... a snippet of an encounter ... of a finding ... of a loss. As I weave through my existence, so does my work. And always nature has the first and last word. And I pay attention.
And for weeks at a time, I become the photographer and document life and creative happenings on a wave-swept barrier island beach. There the tide becomes the artist … and nature’s water, wind, sand, and washed-up debris become the medium … and sometimes illusion becomes nature’s art. Captivating shore birds and wondrous creatures of the ocean also get into the act in this magical living-beach landscape that I roam. There nature shouts out loud …
and I love hearing it.
Raised in Southern Germany and the American Midwest, Helga received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with her creative focus on textile design. She was the assistant to Hugh Hefner’s personal designer, and created window displays for Marshall Field’s. While raising her three daughters, she worked as a free-lance designer and also began her twenty-five year relationship with an eight harness Gilmore loom. Her weavings did not stop with the use of beautiful, colorful yarns. Love for basketry followed, and Helga could often be found foraging among nature’s bounty for interesting and unusual materials for her creations and for her students to use in the numerous basket weaving classes and workshops that she taught. She especially enjoyed working with children in the local schools, and developed creative weaving projects that she used in the classrooms. Currently, Helga's artistic adventures have taken her to re-explore drawing and painting, watercolors and acrylics being her favorites……but she continues to collect that special branch, simple acorn cap or seashell to be used in tomorrow’s basket creation.
Right: Helga in an ad for Strathmore during her senior year at the Art Institute.