gail harker: a creative powerhouse
By Patricia Belyea
LA CONNER WA Gail Harker is a petite gal with a very large mission. For a woman who could be sitting on her laurels, Gail leads a nationally recognized educational center that celebrates art and stitch.
Knowing Gail is a graduate of London CIty & Guilds Institute, I assumed she’s British. When I visited her last week, I was thrilled to learn she’s a fellow Canadian.
After living in England for 20 years, Gail and her American husband could have moved anywhere. They choose our backyard—convenient for us Northwesterners although some of Gail’s students come from thousands of miles away.
Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts fills the bottom floor of a huge renovated barn outside historic La Conner. The Design Studio and Stitch Studio, each about 3,000 square feet, provide space for students to explore, experiment and express their personal voices in design and textile work. The facilities, loaded with gear, keep creative juices flowing, and if students want to take a break—there’s a patio with chairs overlooking a picturesque pond.
Although the Center offers certificate and diploma classes that require hundreds of hours of coursework, I learned about a new online course in Color Studies (a new session is starting February 11) and really cool four-day special interest classes. How about Experimental Machine Stitch (Jan 29-Feb 2), Experimental Metal Meshworking (Feb 27-Mar 2), Surface Design with Natural Dyes (Apr 11-13) or Wire as Fiber (May 15-18)?
Right now is downtime at the Center but Gail just doesn’t stop. Tables in the Design Studio were filled with her arty endeavors—cut, torn, painted, and stitched papers—getting ready for upcoming classes.
Gail’s determined to help her students tap into themselves, not borrow ideas from others. When you see their finished artwork around the Center, you can see Gail’s accomplished this goal.