Kathleen Petitjean



Petitjean, Stoneware

“Venus Silvae VI”

Venus-Silvae.com

Artist Footsteps

Kathleen was three when she took a crayon to the ceiling of her nursery. It remains a mystery how she managed the feat, but she has been drawing, painting and sculpting ever since.  She participated in sculpting, painting and drawing for 10 years in 4-H, winning county and state championships for her entries and two Gold Keys in the area’s Scholastic Art Awards. Kathleen studied under Alan Larkin and Dora Natella at IUSB and has taken classes at the South Bend Museum of Art with Howard Scott, Janet Leazenby, Kari Black, and Zona Jennifer.

In 2010, Kathleen launched the Rain Barrel Project. The initiative enlists artists and school-children to paint up-cycled 55-gallon barrels that are made available to lovers of functional garden art. In addition to the many Rain Barrels Kathleen has painted, she has overseen the completion of over 100 other painted Rain Barrels that are now in use at homes, schools and community gardens in South Bend, Mishawaka, Indianapolis, Niles, Three Rivers and beyond. Kathleen’s love of color, design and texture can also be found in her own garden of flowers and edibles.

In 2015, Kathleen returned to sculpting in clay and launched Venus Silvae, (Venus of the Woods), which began as a series of hand-carved vessels for live orchids. “Orchids have a special relationship with trees; as epiphytes in their native habitats, they cling benignly to trees, serving as a sort of exquisite corsage for their host tree.” Although most orchids prefer to be humid, their roots need air circulation; Kathleen’s Venus Silvae vessels have multiple openings to allow for air circulation and for water to pass over the roots and into the separate humidity basin. Water evaporating from the humidity tray creates the moist environment orchids love. Some collectors add their own pea or aquarium gravel to the humidity tray to enhance the evaporation process.

Over time, Kathleen has added other beautiful, often functional sculptures to her Venus Silvae series. “I see the human female form in trees everywhere and hope my sculptures awaken others to the graceful poetry of trees and the women (and men) who admire them.”

Shows, Awards, Features
Green Lakes Art Festival, 2005
Three Rivers Art Festival, Award of Distinction 2005
Northern Indiana Artists, Buchanan Art Exhibit, Merit Award 2016
South Bend Art League Arts in Bloom Garden Walk, Featured Artist, 2016
Northern Indiana Artists, Juried Members Exhibition, South Bend Museum of Art, 2016
Illinois Orchid Society, Fall Orchid and Art Show, Chicago Botanic Garden, First Place: Sculpture/Art, 2016
Illinois Orchid Society, Fall Orchid and Art Show, Chicago Botanic Garden, Best in Class: Sculpture/Art, 2016

Shows, Awards, Features
Works currently on display at: South Bend Museum of Art, South Bend, Indiana
Buchanan Art Center, Buchanan, Michigan

Contact the artist for purchase. All images are copyrighted by the artist.

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