Friday, January 18, 2013

Beyond the Veil with Kitty Johnson

Kitty is a PacNW native who's art has touched my heart and inspired a love for miniature textile dolls.
I am honored to introduce you to one of the most talented artists I have had the pleasure of interviewing.
Let's go beyond the veil with Kitty into a world rich with beauty. Enjoy!

Visit Kitty's Etsy Shop here

1. You are a creator of miniature dolls. Tell us more about where the desire to create these little beauties came from?

My fascination with multi-cultural dolls started early, so early it seems that they have always been a part of my history. My collection started as souvenirs brought back from foreign lands by my aunts and friends of my family. I was always fascinated by their exotic stories, colors, fabrics and textures. The fact that I was adopted, my roots, my ties to the past, my ancestors always shrouded in mystery influences this work. Early on I realized my work was telling a story. My story. Our story. Dolls cross time and boundaries. I am building my own bridge of continuity, real or imagined back to source. For the past five years I have been involved in gallery shows that required the dolls to be under 6”, I am currently working on some larger pieces I am really excited about.

2. You have a love for textiles. What region of the world do you think produces the most beautiful textiles?

I don’t know if I can choose! I am seriously in love with textiles from Central Asia. Turkoman embroidery and ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan send me over the moon... North Africa, the Middle East, India, Guatemala - I love textiles, beads, and tribal jewelry. I use vintage materials such as Victorian jet beads, art deco silk embroidered fragments, semi-precious stones and ethnic charms along with contemporary beads and fabrics to tell my story. The weight, the history of the materials is important to me.

3. How long does it typically take to make a miniature doll?

Each doll takes quite a bit of time as I make my own patterns, each piece is improvised, every bead stitched by hand. I actually don’t keep track, I don’t want to know.

4. What does soul work mean to you?

Looking within, finding home in oneself. Following those synchronistic events that set ones soul on fire. Creating, following the muse. Finding purpose, seeking spirit.


5. What countries have you traveled to and what was your favorite place?

It’s funny when thinking about this question I started thinking of where I have been by the bodies of water I have experienced. I’ve lived on the Puget Sound all of my life in Washington state. I’ve traveled the Pacific Ocean from British Columbia, Canada to Guatemala. The Sea of Cortez, both sides of the Atlantic, the Caribbean... water feeds my soul. Three of the most magical places I have experienced are Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, Crater Lake, OR and Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Venice, Italy is soul stirring but the place that has captured my soul and won’t let go is Guatemala. It is the most alive place I have ever been. The earth is always pulsing. The volcanoes are active. The Maya are still practicing magic.

6. What other art mediums do you explore?

I’ve been a painter all of my life. My most recent paintings are collage where I have painted or printed most of the materials. I still show my paintings on occasion but I have been focused on the beadwork as of late. I am in love with Ebony pencils, my favorite drawing tool. I knit, embroider, and enjoy all kinds of crafts.

7. What kind of music makes your soul dance?

Middle Eastern, North African and Latin rhythms make my soul sing AND dance!


8. You have been a part of the Bellydance community, do you still dance or practice?

I still dance for myself. I take lessons on and off. I live on an island and sometimes making it to the mainland for lessons on a regular basis has been a challenge! I am an avid supporter of the bellydance community. Seattle has an amazing variety of professional dancers and teachers to choose from. The yearly Cues & Tattoos Festival put on by Troupe Hipnotica is world class and now that Tempest lives here she promises to bring her own fusion based events to the Northwest. In many ways the bellydance community has been a catalyst and inspired my work.

9. What is your favorite piece of literature and why?

I think I am too mercurial to have one favorite piece of literature! At the moment I am re-reading Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende. An underrated collection of art, stories, poems, musings and recipes of sensual delights. I find it beautiful and fascinating.

10. Who is your favorite artist and why?

For this moment in time I will say Mexican born long time Seattle resident Alfredo Arreguin. I want to choose a living evolving artist. His rich exotic paintings evoke another world, a dream world full of mysterious color and magic. His work speaks in resplendent vivid hues!


  1. Loved reading this and all about you, Kitty. Your work speaks to me on many levels. Thank you both. xo

  2. Such a beautiful interview! Both you and Kitty are a-mazing :)

  3. These are beyond dolls. They have magic beads and attachments (LOVE the beetle wings) AND they (wonderfully) hurt my brain: the tiny-ness, the iconic references, the (pardon me) pin-point accuracy of creation and vision. If I had one(doll) in my pocket, nobody would mess with me. BRAVA to Kitty AND to an excellent interview!

  4. Thank you so much Lindsay - you did such an amazing job putting this together! Thank you all for such lovely and thought provoking comments!