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Interview with Henry, the Feline Fiber Artist
The Early Years...How did you meet your human Henry?
She found me at a pet store when I was an 8 week old kitten! Someone had brought in a litter of kittens to be adopted, and I was the only black and white kitten in the bunch. The rest were grey and white. My purrrrrrson said that I was the pick of the litter!Did you have a happy kittenhood?
Yes! My purrrrson adopted me so her other cat Alice, who she adopted from the Bangor Humane Society, would have a playmate. My purrrrrrson let me do just about anything I wanted! I loved to explore and play and watch birds from our 2nd story window. And when I did something naughty and got in trouble, I could always purrrrrrrr my way out of it!When did you first develop an interest in a creative career? - were you a creative kitten?
When I was a kitten, my purrrrrson bought me a scratching post so I would stop scratching the chair. But I still liked scratching the chair better because it had an interesting texture, and did not turn over like the scratching post. After that, my purrrrrson decided to nail pieces of carpet to the wall for me to scratch. That is when she first started to notice that I wasn't just scratching, I was creating art!
The Art Career...What artists have influenced your work?
I do not feel that my work has been influenced by human artists. Cats have an art form all their own!You best known works are in carpet - have you experimented with other media?
I have also scratched cardboard, curtains, and wood. But carpet nailed to the wall and the living room chair are my favorite materials to create with.Many artists face challenges in finding galleries to display their work. Your work is on display in high profile public venues - that can't have been easy to accomplish! How did you manage to get your work on display?
My purrrrrrrson is a fiber artist too! The Bangor Public Library invited her to display some of her fiber art, and she asked if she could display a few of my pieces as well. They had never displayed the work of a cat before, but when they saw the wonderful pieces I had created, they immediately said yes! The local newspaper did a story on it. My purrrrson made a video about the library displaying my work and posted it on YouTube. Then one day, the producers of Animal Planet;s Cats 101 saw it, and they called to see if they could come to Bangor and document my work. That's how I became a famous cat artist!The venues that display your work, such as the public library, generally exclude cats - you might be invited for a special occasion, but it's not like they have a row of litter boxes next to the human bathrooms! How do you feel about your work being displayed in venues that cats aren't welcomed?
Unfortunately, purrrrrrsons that make rules about things like that don't understand the value cats can bring to public places. For example, if I was in the Bangor Public Library long enough, I could create some wonderful works of feline fiber art on the stuffed chairs they have in the reading area!Sculptors often like it when their work can be handled, experienced in a tactile fashion, but painters are generally horrified if anyone wants to touch their work. As a fiber artist, how do you react to your work being handled? Are you for, or against, it being experienced in a tactile way, by your fans?
As long as purrrrrsons don't mess it up, they are welcome to touch my work.Do you have aspirations for your future career development? Galleries in which you would like to see your work displayed, or plans to experiment in other media or styles?
My purrrrrrson recently had some purrrrrfessional photos taken of me. She is planning to help me do some e-book projects to bring my work to a wider audience. Also, we are working on a relaxation MP3 download that will feature me purrrrrrrrring!Have you considered creating a 'how to' video for aspiring feline sculptors?
No, but my purrrrrrrson wrote an article about how to help your cat express their creativity through scratching, and told people that cats are very creative - we just need the right materials!
You can read it here: http://www.cat-share.com/profiles/blogs/helping-your-cat-express-its-creativity-through-scratching-1?xg_source=activityCan you offer any advice for cats and their humans, suggestions for how to encourage creative kittens?
If purrrrrrsons get some carpet scraps and nail or screw them to the wall at a good level for scratching, they will be surprised by the wonderful works of fiber art their cats can create! Just make sure to use carpet that has continuous loops and is not cut, and is fairly easy to scratch into. If your kitten or cat needs some encouragement, just rub the carpet with cat nip!You live with your sister - do you have an advice for other cats on how to cope with siblings?
My purrrrrrson said that I've always had a problem of being jealous of my sister Alice. She was about 4 years old when my purrrrrson adopted me, and Alice had been living with my purrrrrson for about 6 months. Of course, I wanted all my purrrrrrson's attention, and it bothered me when I saw her making over Alice. Alice didn't like it when I pounced on her, and she hissed and smacked me! But we finally worked things out to the point that we can coexist without too many problems. Alice can be silly at times – especially when my purrrrrson gives her catnip, but she sure is good at finding the cat treats and convincing our purrrrrson to open them!You are quite a famous cat Henry - you are all over the internet - how have you managed to deal with the fame?
My purrrrrrrson is my purrrrrrrrsonal manager. She takes care of maintaining my Facebook fan page, posting my photos, answering emails, and things like that.Are there cat-causes or cat charities you like to encourage people to support?
I would encourage purrrrrsons to help any organizations that help cats or work against decalwing! After all, cats need their claws to create feline fiber art!
Keep up the great work Henry, we think your art is fabulous!
- Flick, Dot & Buzz
2015 UpdateSadly, Henry the Feline Fibre Artist passed away in July of 2015, at the age of 13 years old.
RIP Henry, your artwork remains an inspiration to both human and feline artists, and you will be sadly missed.
Read more about Henryhttp://henrythefelinefiberartist.wordpress.com/
Flick, Dot & Buzz
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