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Katharina Criscuolo

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      Born and raised in West Germany, I spent the first 5 years of my life in a Catholic orphanage where the nuns thought it was a mortal sin being left handed; therefore, with nothing short of extreme measures, they made me become right handed. 

      When I was adopted, I thought I was special. After all, this woman picked me out of a dozen other children; she did not have to have me...she actually wanted me. Needless to say until the age of 18, I had a horrific childhood. Have you ever watched the movie Sybil? How about Mommy Dearest? Combine those two movies and that was my life until I moved out on my own. Growing up in this type of an environment has made me a much stronger person than most and made me who I am today. Between my love of music ( I have 1000+ 45s and just as many albums that I still listen to on my record player) and creating something crafty with my hands has kept me going; kept me alive.

       No one in my family was artistic. I, on the other hand, loved to dabble in everything. I have embroidered since the age of 10. Initially I was given embroidery kits as gifts, but as I grew up and later on in life, I created my own embroidery---no more kits. A rooster mosaic made out of a variety of dried beans was the first craft item I created. I was in kindergarten at the time. It seemed like I was always thinking about things I could make/create. If something on the road caught my eye, I would pick it up and store it away knowing I would be utilizing it one day to create something. Sometimes that day took a couple months; other times a couple years. I have been doing that my entire life. I consider myself an organized pack rat. For example, I always collected frames not only from dumpsters and garage sales but from secondhand stores. Just because the painting itself is ugly, the frame might be gorgeous. I would buy that frame for a couple of bucks, take it home, toss the painting and keep the frame for future use. I used many for my embroidery. Now I use them for my quilling.

      I have always been a crafty person trying new things. If I end up liking a certain craft, I would continue doing that craft for a few years. Macrame, crocheting and making afghans were some of those things that I did for numerous years. However, I always was and still continue to be open to new things. One Christmas I made it a point to find out all my friends's color schemes in their bedroom.  Matching their décor, I made dream catchers for each.

      I have done a myriad of crafty things in my life from painting rocks and bottles to creating pictures made out of pieces of broken jewelry, clay sculptures, ceramics, sewing Barbie doll clothes out of leather, lace and silk remnants, string art, decoupage and embossing not to mention making things out of nuts and bolts, paper mache masks, homemade cards, making different types of ornaments, dried flower art and making things out of pinecones. I never cared for scrapbooking, stamping or painting but I do have a passion for taking photos. I always have my camera with me stopping at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere just to capture something I saw. I always wanted to be a photographer and a female drummer when I grew up. 

      I enjoy making mobiles and love creating things out of paper like origami for example.  I have started writing and illustrating numerous books and one day I am going to finish each one of them. I have also written poems especially during the most difficult times in my life.

      It was not until the age of 60 that I actually became an artist which happened quite by accident. The day prior to Demo Day in January 2022, my best friend told me that I should attend this demo being held at a gallery here in town. I decided to go. During Demo Day I painted utilizing watercolor and I learned about cold wax. I then sat down and became familiar with quilling. Instead of participating in the other demonstrations, the entire afternoon I remained quilling with Sue Zeigler. I fell in love with quilling. I never heard of it prior to that day. Sue was so kind and patient with me. Every Thursday during Open Studio for the next four weeks, she taught me one on one letting me borrow supplies until I could afford to buy some on my own.

      On the same day the demo was held, I became a member of the Huachuca Art Association Gallery and helped at each change out and slowly became more familiar with the "art" world. Four months later after receiving much encouragement, I was juried into the gallery with my quilling and embroidery. I sold my very first quilling that day...a snowflake....for $10.  I framed that $10 bill. Quilling changed my life. Who would have ever thought I would be considered an artist...definitely not me. WOW!!! How amazing is that??!! One year later the gallery had their 5th annual judging show. I entered both my eagle and my snow leopard. I put my entire heart and soul into creating those two pieces. I won 2nd place for my eagle and 1st place for my snow leopard. My snow leopard also won the People's Choice Award It was a very emotional day for me. I cried many tears of joy. The individual that purchased my snow leopard is going to call her Leona. I know she is going to a good home. It makes me more than happy knowing that my art can bring so much joy to someone else.  That someone wants to actually display my art in their home is still quite unfathomable to me.

      Only a few things have really changed my life. One of them was becoming an American citizen. The 2nd was becoming a mom. The 3rd was helping deliver a baby...bringing a new life into this world in the back seat of my Ford Focus during the wee hours of a dark. cold and stormy morning. Thinking back to that morning placing her newborn baby girl in her momma"s arms still gives me goose bumps. Her mom named her Katharina after me. More age 60...what changed my life is quilling. After quilling for only one year, I became the recipient of the Peoples Choice Award for my snow leopard quilling. Simply amazing. I am filled with much gratitude. I am honored to be a part of this organization. I thank everyone for giving me the encouragement to not give up; to have fun with it; just to let my imagination sore. Who would have ever known that strips of paper could be formed BY ME into something called art that somebody else actually wants to have displayed in their home. I am grateful. I am honored. I am blessed.

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