First beginning her work on a fine arts degree in the 1980s, Kris Schaedig put a career in the arts on hold to raise a family. Now the longtime Rochester resident and art instructor at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts is finishing her masters degree at the Art Institute of Chicago.
"I always drew, even when I was a child growing up in Rogers City. I went to a Catholic school there, and the nun was an artist and was very encouraging. She was an inspiration to me," Schaedig said. "Originally, I went to Central (Michigan University) for art, but got sidetracked and went into a social work field. I realize that wasn't what I was supposed to be doing, and had three children. I knew I would go back and finish that degree, and 20 years later I did."
Schaedig earned her fine arts degree from Wayne State University and started teaching classes at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts nearly a decade ago. She is currently spending her summers finishing her masters degree from the Art Institute of Chicago. Outside of teaching and being a student, Schaedig is a working artist, with her work on display throughout the Detroit area, Chicago and, of course, the Paint Creek Center for the Arts.
"I used to do a lot of portraiture painting and I teach a figure drawing class. I was always interested in that, but I have gotten away from that in the last couple of years," she said. "It's kind of weird what graduate school does to you. For 20 years I was a painter and I was a drawer. But I started working with old family textiles and how they illustrate the passing of time, especially tablecloths and bedsheets."
Using the aged textiles and adding embroidery, paint and other materials to techniques to address the passing of time, the works are a collection of history from objects we revere and the life contained with the objects. Schaedig draws attention to the holes and stains the textiles have collected over time, allowing the objects to become relics and containers of memories
"It happened accidentally," she said. "I was at my mother's and there were all these old sheets. I wondered who had repaired them. Who made the buttonholes in the first place. They collected all of these memories of everybody who used them."
Like patina that collects on the surface of old metal objects, the imperfections acquired by textiles become part of the aging process, with Schaedig using different techniques to draw attention to those small markers of time.
"I had a duvet cover from my great grandmother. She made every buttonhole by hand. It's probably from the 1930s. That really affected me," she said. "Finally, it wore out, but it's interesting just how people took care of things. It took more time to make something, and things lasted a long time, so the materials had time to gather some history. Things today are poorer quality. It's a disposable culture."
Schaedig's latest work was recently on display at the Ellen Kayrod Gallery in Detroit. She also is part of Mother Art: Revisited, a collaborative of artists in Chicago based on a group of women artists that formed in the 1970s.
"It shows you that it's never too late to follow your passion," she said of her return to art. "I didn't want to be an old lady and have these regrets."
Photo: Laurie Tennent