Color is her passion

South Dakota fiber artist Ann Taecker’s work with silks can be found in corporate and private collections in five continents and is often exhibited.

Currently, some of her silks can be seen in Granite Falls.

Taecker, of Watertown, S.D., has her “Silks With Attitude” on display through Feb. 27 at the KK Berge gallery in downtown Granite Falls. Her exhibit is sponsored by the Granite Area Arts Council.

Taecker said she’s worked with fabric since she was young.

“I’ve been sewing since I was five years old,” Taecker said.

Taecker said her mother was from England and when she moved to the United States, she didn’t know how to sew. So Taecker’s mother, who wanted to make clothing that was uniquely hers and to save on money, learned how.

“She started teaching me to sew, passing that love for having something unique and individual,” Taecker said.

Taecker has a degree in apparel design. She is a recipient of the South Dakota Artists Grant and a South Dakota Collaborative Artist Grant. She has received several awards for her silks. She said the first time she has shown her work was back in 1998.

“I love silk, it’s the best,” Taecker said. “You feel wonderful. You feel like a girl.”

For her work, Taecker paints on silk with dye.

“I’m into functional art,” Taecker said. She said there’s some wall pieces in the exhibit at KK Berge, as well as a few wearable pieces. She has lots of pieces of florals, from a bug’s eye view and a portrait of seven butterflies and one moth titled “Wings!”

“And they’re photo-realistic as I can get them,” Taecker said.

There is a technical challenge to painting on silk with dye, she said. The dyes spread faster than red wine on a white linen tablecloth, and the challenge is to control how they move across the silk.

“It takes a lot of practice to get better,” she said.

Taecker uses a gutta serti technique for her silks, which is where the designs are outlined with gutta, or water-based resists. The techniques an artist uses are similar to watercolor, she said.

Taecker uses dyes that are imported from France. Once the piece is dyed, in order to make it permanent, she puts it in a steamset. The dyed piece is rolled between layers of newsprint, using five-foot long pipe. Taecker said that process is packaging, and the package goes into the steamer, hanging vertically for four to six hours. The steamer causes a chemical reaction that bonds the dyes to fiber, making them permanent. It returns the softhand drape to the silk, she said, and makes the finished product washable. When it comes out of the steamer, the item has to rest for a few days. The product is washed two to three times to remove the excess dye, and then it is ready to frame or wear, she said.

“I like bold, vivid colors,” she said. Taecker said she just uses three colors of dye – red, blue and yellow – in her work. “That’s really the fun part for me, creating different colors from those three, seeing how their interact with each other, create effects. I’m passionate about color. That’s what keeps me doing this.”

Taecker does residencies around South Dakota through the S.D. State Arts Council teaching those in pre-kindergarten through retirement age. She said she incorporates color theory and history into her teaching.

“I love sharing what I do,” Taecker said.