Region 8 Woman Soothes Stresses With Fiber Art

May 25, 2004 -- Posted at 5:26 p.m. CDT

POPLAR BLUFF -- What happens when a therapist needs therapy?  For a Ripley County woman, her therapy comes in the form of fiber art.  Rosemary Claus-Gray is an artist, but she doesn't paint on a canvas. Instead, she uses fabric to tell a story.  Working with fabrics relieves her stress and produces a work of art at the same time.

"It seems to be the way that I look at things that is a little bit different than other people. I enjoy that, I enjoy sharing. To me art work is a kind of communication," said Claus-Gray.
Rosemary's art won her honors at the Margaret Harwell Art Museum Mail-In Art Show in Poplar Bluff. Entries had to be smaller than a 10x13 envelope.
"We're very proud that she's local. competing, if you noticed, we had art from all over the countryside and here we have someone whose a local artist," said Museum Director Tina McGill.

Claus-Gray says her art work helps keep her mind off her job and one could even say these pieces of art are a work of heart.  She is a counselor at the Samuel Medical Clinic in Doniphan, and Claus-Gray uses her art as a de-stresser.

"It helps me relax and restore myself. It's a very nice balance in my profession and in my artwork," she said.

Although she's had no formal schooling as an artist, she learned to work with fabric from her mother while growing up outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois. "She was could just do anything with fabric and I watched and learned and we shared that as a good part of our relationship," she said.

"She says actually the material talks to her and tells her what to do. You can tell her pieces are quiet different from quilts and they are not a pattern. Fiber art is really making a name for itself throughout the country," said McGill.
"I recognized how much artwork and having something to do you enjoy can add to your life," said Claus-Gray.

Claus-Gray's work will be on display until the end of the month at the Margaret Harwell Art Museum.  But if you miss the exhibit, you'll be able to see her work in Jonesboro this fall.  She's designing a nine foot tall wall hanging for a doctor's office, and she says this is her largest project to date.