Hillary Waters is not sure when adolescence knocked on her door, but she was always an inquisitive child who loved to create little projects with drawing, as well as sewing and embroidery, activities which she later made the most of. Her passions were divided between the discovery of Natural Sciences and Art, without knowing that both disciplines could marry together perfectly well. In fact, the designer later achieved a Masters in Fine Arts in materials and a BFA from the University of Buffalo.

It was precisely her young and unwavering mission to preserve environmental values which ended up defining the artistic direction she stands for today. “I’ve always been very interested in the way in which we treat and relate to the environment. I would like to rescue and revive our connection with the natural world. That is why study craft traditions and use them, together with the organic and botanical materials I find. It is a symbolic way of uniting the relationship between nature and human beings, at a time when this link is extremely fragile and complex. I also hope it can be a source of inspiration for this change in perspective”.

Designer portrait.

Three samples of the “Flora” collection made on leaves in yellow tone.

And how does the designer from Elma, New York, now living in Richmond, achieve this? With pieces presented in natural and organic materials, such as plant leaves. Both ethical and sustainable causes lie within this eco-friendly message, and everyone is growing more aware of these matters. “I want to use this everyday material to transform it and elevate it to a higher category so that people see it in a new light”.

Graphic work of PaperCut on paper support.

Graphic composition made with feathers.

3X3 Session Project, a study on human evolution and its relationship with plants.

The US designer also makes use of other natural materials such as feathers, paper or snakeskin, but always, in the case of snakeskin and feathers, seeking a perspective of transformation and balance. It is a matter of, in her words, a return to their origins. Of energy through life and death…

“Being an artist means many things, not only creating. Being self-employed also means talking to galleries, writing emails, giving talks, interviews, packaging… It’s an aspect, especially related to the packaging, that I do not like. I enjoy it much more when I am in the middle of a project, at the heart of the work… I love to make art, despite the fact that it can be tedious and time-consuming. I really love what I do and I take it very seriously, because that is how I really feel. I hope that that is reflected in my work. As the great American poet Kahlil Gibran said: ‘work is love made visible”.

PaperCut work samples on different types sheets.

reflected later in her work. Hillary has been able to travel, see different things, draw on complementary knowledge and it is also a great reader, an aspect that she values above all else. “My vision of things and my relationship with the natural world has changed my way of thinking. In addition, for my artistic inspiration I also focus a lot on what other artists do. This is also important for the creation of each piece. I like to understand what I am doing, although sometimes I don’t know what the end result is going to be”.

“I’ve always been very interested in the way in which we treat and relate to the environment. I would like to rescue and revive our connection with the natural world”

In any case, Hillary is a person who is grateful that she can throw her full weight into each job and relishes the hard work and effort it takes to get ahead because you have to believe, first in the work and then in yourself. She especially discovered this when it came to gaining recognition. “For artists or designers, it is very important that people appreciate what you do. In a functional way, it is an important part of our careers and for our daily lives, but apart from that, when someone values you they must know the whole context that surrounds you, where you come from, what your history is… All the connections are important. So, each piece should be seen as wrapped up in all these factors. That is really when a piece discovers its essence”.

Intervention with threads on hollow seeds and Maple leaf.

Photo portrait: Merceded Jelinek
Rest images: Hillary Waters


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