Connect
To Top

Rising Stars: Meet Christine Hager-Braun

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Hager-Braun.

Hi Christine, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I am an art quilter creating textile paintings. However, my background did not point to a journey to this profession.

Originally, I’m from Germany. I was raised in a rural area and graduated as one of only 37 students from a school, which provided access to higher education. Although I enjoyed arts and crafts, going to art school, and becoming an artist was never a consideration, not by me and certainly not by my parents.

So, I attended university, received an M.S. in Biology and then a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. In 1999, my husband and I relocated to the US to continue our interests in scientific research. We intended to stay for two years, but, well, you can do the math! North Carolina became our home.

I was exposed to quilting only after my move to the US. I had never seen a quilt before and enjoyed looking at the geometric patterns. But more than that, I was fascinated by the idea of creating “paintings” from fabric and thread. Hence, I started art quilting in 2003 to balance life as wife, scientist, and also new mother.

Soon, however, expressing myself without words through fabric became of increasing importance. As a result, I resigned from my work as scientist and focused on a career as professional fiber artist. It was definitely a bold move to give up a steady job with a reliable income to become a solopreneur with an art business!

Now I am the owner and creative director of the art studio Soular Power Fabric Art – and yes, the name is spelled with a U as in Soul. I design and create art quilts and exhibit widely. Every year I take on a limited number of commissions and accept speaking engagements for arts organizations.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Has it been a smooth road? No, not always.

I officially registered my studio as a business in January of 2008. In hindsight, it was the worst timing possible considering the financial crisis in the US. Yet I hung in there. There were other lean years, but as an artist, or any other small business owner, you have to adapt through creative solutions.

Like so many others, the pandemic of COVID-19 affected my business. Art walks stopped, galleries closed, venues abandoned exhibitions, and the classes I taught were canceled. However, after a short time of anxiety about the future, I decided to pivot.

Now I offer online live lectures about creativity, the artistic voice, and the passion and purpose of being an artist, to quilt guilds, mixed media groups and art leagues. I also used 2020 to deepen the meaning of my work and explore better ways to connect with my audience through a monthly newsletter, blogging more often, and of course, social media.

Many of the obstacles, challenges, and misconceptions I dealt with over the years have required me to evaluate and revise my path regularly. While the pressure is uncomfortable in the moment, it has always helped me to create a better iteration of my art and business.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I create abstract art quilts in vibrant colors using fabric and thread.

Unlike most traditional quilts, art quilts are used as wall hangings. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and there is a wide variety of techniques employed to create these art quilts. In my case, I cut yardage of batik or hand-dyed cotton fabric into narrow strips, arrange the strips on a design wall until I have a pleasing composition, and then sew the strips together on a domestic sewing machine. The resulting top is assembled with additional layers and stitched together to create contour and depth. Most of my art quilts are mounted on stretched canvas and presented like a painting, while my larger pieces are hanging flush against the wall without rigid support.

These textile paintings add a bold visual statement to any room. The softness and malleability of the fabric is an unexpected juxtaposition to the rigid and often cold materials like concrete or stone, used in contemporary buildings. The textile paintings can turn a house into a home or an office into a workspace with energy.

The themes of my work have changed over the years, and it took time for me to find my own style and my artistic voice.

Currently, my work is inspired by our inner strength to cope when faced with adversity, tragedy, or severe health issues. Frequently, my creative process is influenced by the deep awareness, acceptance, and connection to my own personal and emotional growth. As we all face opposing forces in our lives – joy and sorrow, harmony, and conflict, hope and despair – my art often has a juxtaposition of light and dark colors. But as there is rarely a clear-cut path through life, the shapes in my work do not have hard edges. Instead, they are only an approximation, a best effort, the deliberate embrace of imperfection.

My own path gave rise to my artistic voice and every new art quilt is motivated by my belief in the gift of resilience, the importance of emotional well-being, and the power of a positive mindset – topics that are frequently neglected in the fast pace of our modern lives. Each piece contains a (sometimes hidden) message as it reflects a triumph over our trials, a reminder of our daily successes, and the promise to ourselves that we will never give up.

I am proud of so many steps along the way:

My art quilts are exhibited in regional, national, and international exhibitions, such as The Art of Mental Health, Intertwined 2020: Contemporary Southeastern Fiber Art, or the Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition. I won awards in a variety of exhibitions and was selected by the Rosen Group as a 2016 Niche Award Finalist. My work can be found in national and international private collections. In addition, I created several art pieces for hospitals in MN.

But the biggest impact on me as an artist without formal education at an arts school was the early recognition as two-time recipient of the Grant for Emerging Artist presented by the Durham Arts Council (Durham, NC). These awards gave me the confidence to pursue my goals and I still consider them some of the achievements I am most proud of.

My ambitions and tenacity, my willingness to explore and adapt, and my husband’s unwavering support helped me to turn my dream into reality despite some bumps in the road.

What matters most to you?
Every morning I look forward to go to the studio and create art!

I deeply value the connection with art lovers. It is important to me to understand what excites them about art, how colors make their heart sing, what meaning art and creativity has in their life. Their point of view matters to me as it will inform my creative process. While artists often create alone in their studio, the resulting artwork is meant for the public to see and engage in. The communication using visual, spoken, and written language allows us to educate, entertain and inspire each other.

Communication is also important to me when I work with customers, especially in the context of commissions. I am always happy to answer questions and educate my clients about their options in the process of buying an original art piece and then later caring for the textile painting. Our relationship continues even after the art piece leaves my studio.

It is important to me to use the best quality of fabrics and I put a strong emphasis on high professional standards and excellence in craftsmanship.

I want my customers to leave my studio informed, confident about their purchase, and thrilled to make my art part of their lives.

Contact Info:

Suggest a Story: VoyageRaleigh is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories