Kim Eichler-Messmer has been steadily building a life
For the last twelve years, Kim Eichler-Messmer has been steadily building a life and career in Kansas City. As a teacher, designer, educator, and entrepreneur, she has established a professional and artistic reputation of merit. Along the way, her innate curiosity has led her to explore various disciplines that are stitched together to inform her artistic practice.
Eichler-Messmer trained as a painter
of color is evidenced by the sumptuous gradations
Ms. Eichler-Messmer trained as a painter, and this influence is apparent in her art quilts. Finding inspiration in the distinct light, weather, and skies of her native Midwest, she utilizes hand-dyed fabrics to craft visually abstract textile landscapes. Her mastery of color is evidenced by the sumptuous gradations of indigo, reds, and yellows in her latest series of geometrically patterned works. Her more recent quilts incorporate natural dyes and materials. Process is everything; the use of slow, laborious, and sometimes unpredictable techniques endows each quilt with an undeniable connection to the hand of the artist. Her quilts are as improvisational as they are precise.
Eichler-Messmer found herself ruminating on her future as an artist.
she enrolled in the Artist
INC program in 2010.
After earning her MFA in Textiles from the University of Kansas in 2007, Eichler-Messmer moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a year-long residency at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. There she developed her fine art practice and also experimented with making bags and other textile items to sell. Following that residency, a teaching opportunity led the artist to relocate once again, to Kansas City. The plan was to temporarily replace an instructor on sabbatical at the Kansas City Art Institute, a fortuitous move that has since evolved into a flourishing career as an educator and mentor.
Fresh out of graduate school and her residency, Eichler-Messmer found herself ruminating on her future as an artist. Feeling that she needed to acquire some business and entrepreneurial skills to solidify the path forward, she enrolled in the Artist INC program in 2010. There she not only found new colleagues and collaborators, but tactics that would ultimately transform her professional career.
I create quilts that explore structure and pattern in the natural world.
Putting to use the entrepreneurial skills she learned in Artist INC
Eichler-Messmer embarked on some new ventures. One was opening an Etsy store to sell her art quilts. Her designs caught the attention of retailers, launching a commercial design career. Another was writing a book detailing her methods for hand-dyeing the fabrics she used in her work, a method that sets her apart from other textile artists.
In 2017, while working on her first fabric line, she enrolled in Artist INC Advance
Eichler-Messmer saw a big shift in her practice when she began to embrace a more natural lifestyle after the loss of her father, including transitioning from synthetic to plant-based dyes. The change required a rigorous commitment to process, which led to new teaching and design possibilities. She conducts workshops and college courses on the natural dye process, and makes her dye recipes available on her website. In 2017, while working on her first fabric line, she enrolled in Artist INC Advance to gain insight into marketing and selling her fabrics and quilt design patterns.
She continues to impart those lessons to her students
A dozen years after accepting her “temporary” position, Eichler-Messmer is a full-time, Associate Professor at the Kansas City Art Institute. She has been involved in several commercial ventures, including quilt designs featured on West Elm and Apartment Therapy, and a quilt designed for Pottery Barn Teen. Imbue, a line of batik quilting fabrics designed by the artist, is distributed through Marcus Fabrics. Another fabric line, Shibori Dye, makes its debut in Winter 2020 for Paintbrush Studio Fabrics in North Kansas City.
Her work has been featured in a number of industry publications including Modern Patchwork and Surface Design Journal, and in KC Studio Magazine. She teaches workshops about her natural dye processes, and has shown her work nationally and internationally. Her book, Modern Color: An Illustrated Guide to Dyeing Fabric for Modern Quilts, was published in 2014. For a time she taught entrepreneurship at KCAI, and she continues to impart those lessons to her students in a million small ways.
Eichler-Messmer credits Artist INC for equipping her with the knowledge to form important networks to build her practice, and some impactful skills to help sustain it.