Lisa Binkley holds a B.S. in Textiles & Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Formerly a public policy analyst, she has maintained an active fiber art studio since 2000 and has been teaching since 2007. Her award-winning artwork has been selected for national and international exhibitions including those of the American Quilters' Society, the International Quilt Association, Crafts National, CraftForms, Wisconsin Artists Biennia, and many others. Lisa and her artwork have been featured on local and national television, in internationally-distributed books and magazines, and in many local publications. Her art is represented in public, private, and corporate collections. Lisa enjoys sharing her passion for the fiber arts through her artwork, classes, and lectures, and she teaches throughout the U.S. She and her husband, illustrator Ed Binkley, have two young-adult children. Lisa and Ed live in the woods of Madison, Wisconsin with their big fluffy dog.
Since early childhood I have spent countless hours immersed in threads and beads and in stitching them onto fabric. Throughout my life I have also been a self-guided student of the natural world, the spiritual quest, and poetry. For tens of thousands of years and across much of the globe, others have shared these material and intellectual passions. Like me, they have sought to contemplate and celebrate life’s questions and wonders through the slow process of hand stitching. As I carry on my part of this tradition, I work to create meticulously crafted art objects. Whether I stitch them by hand, machine, or both, I see these objects as forms of visual poetry. Through them I seek to speak to viewers quietly, reverently, and sometimes whimsically of the mystery and beauty of our universe.
My studio is nestled in the woods of southern Wisconsin. So much of my artistic inspiration and spiritual well-being comes from what I see through my studio windows and on the walks I take with my dog for miles in all directions from my home. All of the leaf forms in my art quilts and embroideries are taken directly from leaves I collect on these daily walks. The dog stops to sniff; I stop to pick up beautiful leaves. She’s a great studio companion too. I see endless beauty and life-affirming inspiration in the natural world, and I hope to convey at least some small part of this in my artwork.
All of my life I have also been interested in world religions and the unanswerable questions that people have asked and will continue to ask as long as there are people on earth. I find great comfort and camaraderie in knowing that people have been asking these questions for thousands of years and that at least a few people in just about every culture have turned to fiber and beads as a form of contemplating the ineffable. I work to carry on a rich and wonderful global tradition.
I love that the tools of my trade are so simple—needles, threads, fabrics, fibers, beads, scissors, and occasionally my sewing machine. The techniques are also fairly simple; the challenges come through the design process, the selection of materials, and the commitment of time. Much of my work is pieced or appliqued by machine and then quilted and embellished by hand. Hand stitching is at the core of what I do, and my life would be a far less content without it. Stitching by hand is a meditative process, and it puts my mind in a great place. It helps me slow down, be present in my work, and contemplate.
Studio work time for me varies between silence—when I am designing, researching, pondering—and the wonderful voices present in my studio when I listen to books, poetry, and lectures while stitching. These voices help to enrich my mind, and my artwork, through the many long hours of stitching. I am forever grateful to my public library system for access to just about anything I’d like to listen to while working. My teaching life balances my studio life. Teaching gives me the opportunity to share what I love doing with others who are interested in fibers, beads, and hand work. I enjoy getting to know my students all over the country and getting to spend time in new places.
I am also very grateful to have supportive family and friends in my non-traditional career pursuits. My husband, who is a talented illustrator, is a great supporter of my work as well as a great adviser about things like artistic composition. My two children, parents, and sisters have all been very supportive from the beginning of my decision to leave a career in public policy to pursue my work as a fiber artist, and I am blessed to have some very good friends who support and encourage, as well as inspire me with their lives and work.
I hope you find my Web site/blog to be a place of quiet beauty and inspiration; I welcome your questions and comments.