Kela (Helvecia) Cremaschi was born in 1940 in Mendoza (Argentina), in 1964 she graduated in Plastic Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, then moved to Buenos Aires where she worked in the tapestry atelier of Argentine artist Gracia Cutuli, founder of the first art gallery in America specializing in Fiber Art exhibition: the Galería del Sol.
In 1976 she settled in Lima, Peru, where she studied pre-Columbian textile techniques and created with Manuel Soler the first Peruvian atelier of modern tapestries, called Warp and Weft, and simultaneously taught at several South American universities. Between 1990 and 1993 she was an assessor and coordinator of the Atelier 5 Drawing Center in Bogota, Colombia.
Her artistic activity in South America, with works characterized by total physicality, in which she frees textile technique from technical constraints and enhances the intrinsic expressiveness of materials, indulging their movement with empathetic manipulation.
In 1994 she moved to Como, where she began a new artistic production, became part of the Italian Fiber Art scene with her experience and notoriety, and actively collaborated in the editions of Miniartextil.
She creates new works of political and social commitment, dedicated to the sufferings of the oppressed. Alfonsina y el mar (1995) is dedicated to the Swiss-Argentine intellectual Storni, a socialist and pioneer of women’s claims, who took her own life by throwing herself into the sea: the enveloping movement of the sculpture represents the waves surrounding her body and tinged with the color of her skin. Corazza (1996) is an eerie, dark-armor in which she combines horsehair and copper wire: a breastplate on one side is meant to protect, on the other it looks like a tangled, throbbing heart.
From the same decade is the Wings series, works made with the technique of strips of paper twisted several times, tightened “off loom” and dyed in mono-colors. With this personal technique she models sinuous sculptures of small or large format, with a gradual opening of the form: these are from this period: The Wings of the Fallen Angel (1990), The Wing (1999), The Fall (2000).Then she opens p rogressively the twisted form of the sculpture and in The Feather (2000, cm. 300 x 140) the swirling fall seems to have flayed the angel’s wing.
In Penelope (2002) she places a ball of yarn illuminated by silver leaf, alluding to the patient work of spinning and weaving, on a marble pedestal that hints at Greek sculpture and carves it with a wound to represent the long suffering of waiting.
In the following decade, the black series ends and the white series begins, the color of rebirth, new beginning and spiritual openness. On the Foam of Clouds (2010) is sculpture in the form of a cloud, to signify all that is “high” understood as ethical and spiritual, as well as the concept of freedom, inspired by the verses of French poet Paul Eluard:
On the foam of clouds
On the hurricane sweats
On the dull, thick rain
I write your name
On the shimmering shapes
The bells of colors
On the physical truth
I write your name (…)/ Freedom.
In 2010, alongside the works made on the vertical frame with twisted paper, new installations were born, made with honeycomb cardboard. In 10.12.1983 cuando se fueron… she creates a mini-textile that represents the cheerfulness of the entire Argentine community returning to life and rejoicing after the dark years of the military dictatorship, symbolized by the honeycomb shape of the cardboard reminiscent of the community structure of the beehive and the Argentine flag embroidered with plastic thread painted on top. The social theme is also present in Water’s link (2014), a work composed of seven cardboard sculptures that express the difficulty of communication of people, beset by personal and collective problems of misunderstandings and wars. Referring to the popular South American saying “making a knot in the water'” in the sense of making a meaningless and impossible gesture, Cremaschi creates with cardboard the image of a knot that opens, almost unraveling outward, in the water.
An artistic journey supported by a rigorous and personal technique that shows a constant social commitment, which extends from the individual to the whole of humanity.