Kathleen L. Oettinger: Charting the Cosmos

Oettinger's new exhibit features her two most recent fiber art series focusing on images from the Hubble Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. Her mixed collages are created using various layers of fiber, stitching, beads, sequins, and other embellishments. The original stunning telescope images inspired Oettinger to find deeper, and more compelling methods of artistic expression.

Star Light, star bright, The first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

My fascination with the vastness of the cosmos, and our role as humans within it, was present when I was a little girl looking out of my window and softly reciting this nursery rhyme.  The interest has remained constant throughout my 80-year journey here on earth.

In this exhibition, while inspired by the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes, I do not attempt to reproduce their photographs.  Instead, like Alice, I step through a looking glass and into Wonderland.  There I soar and play among the stars and galaxies awhile, until the colors, forms, and empty spaces saturate my imagination. Back in my studio, I use my intuition to manipulate my materials into an abstract expression of what I saw and felt.

As an artist I am very tactile and enjoy working with my hands.  The physical experience of my tools and materials helps me to manifest interior and more subtle aspects of myself.  I enjoy the textures and techniques available when using fiber as the main component in my mixed media collages.  In incorporating personal flotsam and jetsam, literally and metaphorically, into my depictions of the universe, I am choosing to responsibly recycle and upcycle textiles to protect our environment.

My goal as an artist is to invite viewers into a journey of their own.  Through my art I seek to communicate with them in a way that supports a sense of belonging and connection within the mystery we inhabit together. --Kathleen L. Oettinger

About the Artist:

Education: Kathleen L. Oettinger received a BFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, in 1965; an MA degree in Adult Christian Community Development from Regis College, Denver, CO in 1984, an MFA in Studio Art from Catholic University, Washington, DC, in 1987, and an MA in Marriage & Family Therapy from Regis University, Las Vegas, NV campus, in 2008.

Work experience: Oettinger taught art at Washington International College, Washington, DC for ten years and art for mentally and physically challenged adults at the Kennedy Institute, Washington, DC in 1984.  She taught art history, humanities, and ethics courses at Polk College, Winter Haven, FL during the period between 1996 -2002.  She worked as a marriage and family therapist/ drug and alcohol counselor at Bridge Counseling Services from 2007 to 2011.  She worked as a spiritual director and, later, as a member of the faculty and supervisor in the Institute for Spiritual Direction at Stillpoint training program at Stillpoint Center, Las Vegas, NV, from 2004 to 20018.

Oettinger was a contributing editor and columnist for Marriage and Family Living Magazine, Abby Press, St. Meinrad IN, from 1982-84, and a writer and editor for the National Institute for the Family in Washington, DC, from 1981-1984. She was the art editor for the poetry magazine, Visions International, Black Buzzard Press, Falls Church, VA from 1991-1998, and for Presence Magazine, Spiritual Directors International, Seattle, WA from 2004,2007.

After moving to Las Vegas with her husband in 2003, Oettinger never stopped making art but she did put her art career on hold.  She released the hold in late 2020 with the acceptance of her new Hubble Telescope series into a curated digital exhibition sponsored by the European Space Agency in celebration of the telescope’s 30th anniversary.

When the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2021 was announced, Oettinger’s opportunities to show her work became more limited.  She submitted an 8” fiber square, Palo Verde Tree Bowing to The Heroes Quilt Project, curated by Jill Kipnis of Inspirational Embroidery in the UK.  The square was accepted and the quilt featured at the Festival of Quilts and the Knitting & Stitching Show in 2021 and at other venues. Ms. Kipnis published a catalogue book of the quilt with its 49 squares. 

For her next exhibition, Oettinger chose Drawn Together, A Global Collaboration project curated by Soude Dadras, founder of Ongoing Conversation. The project was conceived to highlight the importance of being connected through art making during the global pandemic and included hundreds of artists from 27 countries to connect art-lovers and artists in international exhibitions. Each artist received a printed square of cloth as their “canvas.”  On her square, Oettinger chose to depict Grandmother Oak, sheltering eggs in a nest and letting hatchlings fly free. The Drawn Together exhibition was the largest international art event held to date in the National Center for Contemporary Arts in Minsk Belarus.                                                                                    

Most recently Oettinger created 20 fiber art squares for the Violet Protest project started by Arizona Artist Ann Morton to encourage Congress to incorporate into their work the values of Citizenship: Compromise: Country over party and corporate influence: Courage: Candor: Compassion: Creativity.  Each of the 13,500 eight-inch squares contributed by over 2,200 makers from all 50 states, DC and Canada featured equal parts of red and blue, creating an overall presentation of violet. After a debut exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum in March – Sept 2021,  24 to 25 squares each were shipped to members of the 117th Congress and members of the administration. One of Oettinger’s 20 squares was selected to be sent to President Biden. A documentary is currently being filmed to be presented by Arizona PBS on their national network.

Awards and recognition: Ms. Oettinger was selected as the 1993 feature artist of the Contemporary Finnish-American Artist Series, Finlandia University, Hancock, MI.  In 1994, she received an award for creativity in service to America’s children from former First Lady Roselyn Carter for her work for Every Child by Two. In 1995 Ms. Oettinger, as a member of the National Board, represented The Women’s Caucus for Art at the Fourth United Nations World Women’s Conference held in Beijing, China.  She is listed in the Marquis publications, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in America.

On exhibit at Centennial Hills Library from January 12, 2023 through April 2, 2023

Reception on January 12, 5:30-7 p.m.

Monday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Tuesday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Wednesday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Thursday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Friday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Sunday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM