2022 2022: Katy Rodden Walker, MFA ‘22, receives Outstanding Student Award from SDA
Katy Rodden Walker, MFA ‘22, receives Outstanding Student Award from SDA

Graduate ceramics student’s “Enmeshed” (2022) rewarded for innovative work in textile and fiber media by a student artist

Katy Rodden Walker Enmeshed (detail), 2022, clay slip, cheese cloth, glue, led lights, wire, string, ~9’ x 10’ x 5’
Enmeshed (2022), seen in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Star Store.

Katy Rodden Walker, a graduate ceramics student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, recently won the Surface Design Association's (SDA’s) Outstanding Student Award, rewarding “innovative work in textile and fiber media by student artists,” for her work, Enmeshed (2022). Art and Design Professor Professor Rebecca Hutchinson recommended Walker for the award.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by both Professor Hutchinson and the Surface Design Association for all of the work that has gone into making this installation,” said Walker. 

Walker is an interdisciplinary artist interested in exploring complex relationships and interconnectedness between humans and nonhumans, challenging perceptions of boundaries between humans and the environment at a micro and macro scale. She uses various materials to blur boundaries and create connections within space, and to illuminate what is largely unseen.

Enmeshed embraces Rhizomatic and Feminist theory, and is inspired from microscopic images of mycelium (fungal nodes). Embracing the diverse ways that life cooperates together, Enmeshed evolves and merges with the installation space, expanding in all directions, allowing for new offshoots and possibilities.

Made of clay slip, cheese cloth, glue, led lights, wire, and string, Walker developed the concept over the summer of 2021, and worked on the current installation over the course of three months, taking pauses to reflect on the form, and adding and moving material and lighting to create a welcoming environment.

Built intuitively, the installation responds to the architecture and its surroundings. The space is open and inviting, a place of reflection where viewers can observe the subtle changes in shadows and lighting over the course of the day.

SDA presents the Outstanding Student Award for artistic and technical merit, quality of design, innovation, professional presentation, and growth. The purpose of the award is to support the field of textiles and fiber art by: rewarding the innovative work of students, providing exposure across SDA’s social media platforms, creating a community for students studying textiles and fiber arts, and creating lifelong members and supporters of SDA and the Surface Design Journal.

"Katy's work is immersive and experiential. As an installation, the viewer is encouraged to walk into the form and reflect on its detail, fragility, and wonderment," said Professor Rebecca Hutchinson. "The work is inspired by rhizomatic tree root networks such as aspen tree groves and is a metaphor for the hopeful connection that we can have with each other."

Enmeshed is one of four works Walker has on display through May 6, as part of the 2022 MFA Thesis Exhibition at the Star Store in New Bedford.