Chandler artists shine in Scottsdale exhibit The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Chandler artists shine in Scottsdale exhibit

Chandler artists shine in Scottsdale exhibit

David M. Brown

GetOut Contributor


Two Chandler women are exploring the power of love through their fiber artworks at a new exhibition in Scottsdale.

Shachi Kale and Laurie Fagen are joining three East Valley artists at “Huggernaut, Fiber Arts of Love,” Jan. 13 through March 31, at the Civic Center Public Gallery in the Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

A free opening reception is 6:30–8 p.m., Jan. 17, at the library.  And, two workshops will take place 4-7 p.m. Feb. 6 and 3-6 p.m. March 25  in its Copper Gallery. 

A “huggernaut” is a force, an object or a person embracing all things because of love, such as the Buddha, explained Kale, who is also a graphic designer. 

Earlier this year, she had a one-woman show at the Appaloosa Library in Scottsdale, exploring her emigration from native Mumbai, India, to the United States after marriage, and its attendant loneliness, despair, loss of self and, ultimately, reaffirmation and hope –– emotions also depicted in the new exhibition.

“It’s an exhibition of the many styles of fiber arts. The artists present personal artworks communicating the power of love and celebrating faith in humanity in the face of so much heartache, pain and fear in the world,” said Wendy Raisanen, curator of collections and exhibitions for the sponsor, Scottsdale Public Art

The artworks incorporate wool, cotton, nylon, sheepskin, corn husks and leather through quilting, weaving, felting and other sculptural techniques, she explained.

“I feel, more and more, how important it is to remember we all must love one another more to launch ourselves away from the divisiveness occurring in the world, like an astronaut escaping earth’s gravity,” she said, adding:

 “It’s interesting to me how varied the artists’ responses to the subject are. Each artist bears witness to the role love plays in their lives, from bittersweet to joyful.”

The artists’ creations derive from life experiences, some intensely painful.

Fagen’s “Life After Death,” is inspired by the death from cancer of her husband, Geoff Hancock, after 27 years of marriage. The 48-by-23-inch quilt comprises hand-dyed cotton fabrics, thread, beads, yarn, with commercial and artist-made polymer charms.

“‘Life After Death’ shows the initial stage of grief, anger, pain and tears after my husband died, with irregular sides, slashes in the fabric and red yarn symbolizing the fury I felt with the unfairness of this horrid disease,” said Fagen, a native of Earlham, Iowa, and an ASU alumna who moved to Chandler in 1999 from Ahwatukee.

 “It progresses to more calming colors to represent the days when I could finally embrace the memories with smiles instead of so many tears.”

Cancer disrupted the family life, eventually leaving her a widow and her son, Devon Hancock, fatherless. 

Yet, during the travail, their love intensified, an emotional process incorporated in the quilt. “Our commitment to each other became deeper, and in the face of so much heartache, pain and fear, love gave me the strength to carry on after my dear Geoffrey’s passing.”

Now she pursues Fagen Designs in Chandler, writes crime fiction mystery novels, sings and has had her second original musical stage production performed at the Herberger Theater Center in Dec. 2019. 

“My dear friends and family, including my 95-year-old mom, Lani, who is also a quilter in Chandler, gave me hope and brought laughter back into my life,” Fagen said, adding:

 Through giving back with my art and music, I have finally found the wisdom needed to move forward and created peace in my life.”

Kale will be showing three pieces: “Memories,” “Excavating Gold” and “Letting Go.” 

“They attempt to understand how love from our past shapes us and holds us together, how one must dig deep through our own layers and find buried gold and how letting go can be transformative, like a butterfly escaping its cocoon,” she said.

In “Memories,” she combines watercolor, fiber, embroidery and collage, using photographs printed on cloth.

 “Memories of my past, people, places, sounds, smells and textures, remind me of who I was, how the love of family shaped me and how the warm embrace of ‘home’ continues to cast a soft glow on the rest of my life,” said Kale.

Kale, who has been drawing since childhood in India, credits her many teachers at Mesa Community College for mentoring her and husband Vikram Thatte for his support. 

Chandler residents since Aug. 2001, they have two boys, Shantanu and Ishaan, and their dog is Buzz, after “Buzz Lightyear,” the cartoon character.

“Excavating Gold” also includes watercolor and embroidered collage with printed textiles from India. “Here I am exploring the root of the love that can embrace everything in its path,” she said.

 “We are all made up of layers of experience and life events, stories we tell ourselves or have been told, both about the world and ourselves,” she added.

 “The first step to embracing the world with love is to dig deep through those rough and rocky layers and try to reach the glimmer of gold that resides within each of us.”

Embroidery on cloth is the method and material of “Letting Go.” “How can we embrace the world if we are unable to see the beauty and power of transformation that lies within us?” Kale asked, adding:

 “It’s only in allowing ourselves to acknowledge the beauty both outside and inside can we free our spirit to go out and embrace this world filled with variety and differences. 

“Seeing love and its all-powerful embrace expressed by so many artists and their various interpretations will hopefully nudge viewers to think back to all the times they have felt this force of love in their own lives,” she said. “Huggernaut starts from within.”

The workshops are free, but an RSVP is required. This can be done at, where additional information can be found.

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