WE SHARE THE COMMONALITIES of attending the same Christian college, Bethany Lutheran in Mankato, and of being creatives.
I write and photograph. She paints and crochets. She is Malia Wiley, a young southern Minnesota artist who specializes in painting primarily pet portraits. But Malia also crochets and has now combined her two creative passions into an artistic endeavor, Crochet in Translation.
The result is a signature art form unlike any I’ve seen. Novel. Unique. Memorable. And truly creative with the colors and textures of crocheted afghans inspiring, weaving into and enhancing Malia’s portraits of animals.
Recently I attended an opening reception at the Owatonna Arts Center honoring Malia and celebrating her work as an artist. A gallery exhibit of her art continues there until July 28.
I chatted briefly with this talented artist and learned that her grandma taught her to crochet. Her “Hens on Crochet” incorporates an afghan crocheted by her grandmother and exhibited with the painting.
Malia also crafted a few of the showcased afghans. But most were found—at thrift stores and garage sales. Crocheting an afghan, Malia says, takes considerably more time than painting an animal portrait. I don’t doubt that when you look at the intricate patterns of crocheted afghans.
That Malia makes her living as an artist delights me. With this Lake Crystal artist’s level of talent and signature style, it’s easy to see how she has become a successful professional artist. On a larger and more public scale, Malia’s work is featured on a mural she painted for the ag-themed Grow-It Gallery at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato, a museum on my to-see list.
I love when young people, anyone really, follow their passions and find joy in the talents with which they’ve been blessed. We are all the richer for the creatives who enrich our lives through their art.
© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Paintings were photographed with Malia’s permission.