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Check Out Cassia Kite’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassia Kite. 

Hi Cassia, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
In 2012, I began making hand-stitched works that were based on my personal narrative and landscape imagery from my family farm located in the Nebraska. Having no training in embroidery or quilting, I enjoyed the exploratory process of making work that I had no formal education in or pre-disposed expectations for. In July 2013, I became curious about the relationship between color and sound and started exploring the possibilities of how I can unite the sound of the piano with the handstitched image of my paternal grandparents’ house. I had memories of the sound of the piano coming from the farm home when my grandmother would play the piano. I thought it would be interesting if I could somehow associate the piano sound with the image of the house. I researched color and sound and had no interest in working with the science aspect of infrared and ultraviolet light color associations in sound, so I developed my own color scale on the piano, figured out a way to read my handstitched images, organized the change in colors within the stitch into color maps (translations) that would be the order in which the colors (notes) are to be interpreted on the piano. I have been making work and collaborating with composers, musicians, dancers, museums, and educational institutions since the world premiere of my Soundstitching work at KANEKO in 2017. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I did not have any education in music past the eighth grade. I played the snare drum in the middle school band, so I did not have the experience in playing the piano fluently, but I remembered the basic musical scales that I learned from my grandmother at a very young age. I spent three years between 2013 and 2016 trying to educate myself in music by going to as many performances as I could, in the hopes that I would be able to build a vocabulary that would help me communicate my process. It can be difficult to communicate a concept that is in constant development. It was also isolating at times because I was surrounded by a community of visual artists, not musicians. I had to seek out new creatives within the musical and performing arts areas who were willing to generously take time to communicate with me and help to educate me on music history and theory. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I have been an art educator for 19 years. I earned a B.F.A in painting and in sculpture, with an emphasis in Art Education from Northwest Missouri State University and I received my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Teacher Leadership, School Improvement and Educational Technology from the University of Florida. I have held teaching positions in Missouri and Georgia and I am currently teaching at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. In addition to being an art educator, I am the Cross-Curricular Liaison for the academy, which provides the educators and the students the opportunity to have more project-based, interdisciplinary, and cross-curricular educational experiences. I strive to keep my professional art career and my art educator career parallel with one another. Balancing time between being a mother, educator and professional artist can be taxing, but I have found that being around my children and with students in creative environments keeps my professional art practice current and curious. I love teaching and truly believe that I would not be making the work I do if I did not have the opportunity to be amongst the curious and creative youth. 

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
Cassia Kite is an interdisciplinary artist who created Soundstitching, a multimedia project that transforms color from a hand-stitched image into a musical composition that can be interpreted by a musician and/or performance artist. Kite has collaboratively produced large-scale work for chamber ensemble and dancers using color-coded graphic scores derived from her hand-stitched tapestries. Kite’s work was premiered at the KANEKO in Omaha, Nebraska in July of 2017. She has been featured as an experimental composer and visual artist in music festivals, museums, and universities. Kite has been awarded artist in residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in 2018 and The Hambidge Creative Residency Program in 2019. She is the recipient of the Paul J. Smith Excellence in Fibers Award from the Fiber Art Network 2018, the Dixon Ticonderoga Award of Excellence from the Florida Art Education Association in 2019, and the Sarasota Art Educators Association Award from the Florida Art Education Association in 2021. 

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