MJ Kinman,
Textile Artist

When people ask me what I do, I like to tell them “I make the biggest diamonds in the world… But instead of working with the hardest substances on earth, I work with the softest …. cloth.” The idea to create giant gem portraits took hold of my soul 20 years ago and has grown into a passion that has enriched my life as a textile artist.   

The adventure started years ago when, as a novice quiltmaker, I discovered an image of a gorgeous gem. With only a basic understanding of quilting techniques — and no knowledge whatsoever of gemology — I was unsure how to transform that image into a pieced work of art. However, I was convinced there had to be a way. And I was determined to find it. After several years of research and experimentation, I made my first gem portrait.

Torch Song MJ Seated cropped slightly

Fabric, Paint, and Larger Formats

I work with fabric and paint to create larger-than-life portraits of colored gemstones. Inspired by the image of an actual stone, I study the gem to understand its particular personality — the play of color and light across its facets. My goal is to capture the luminosity of these “divas” and “drama queens.”

I prefer to work in a large format in order to convey the story of light and color encased in a gemstone. The larger format also provides viewers with a more intimate experience, inviting them to discover greater levels of detail as they approach the work. While I prefer to work in a series — my most recent series, “Bourbon Diamonds”, celebrates Kentucky’s iconic spirit — each piece is a unique, one-of-kind design. Planning is underway for a new series based on the National Gem Collection housed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

I worked as an administrator and project manager in non-profit organizations and corporate America for 25 years. Concurrently, I was developing the techniques as a textile artist to create my diamond portraits. I left the corporate world in 2014 to devote my time to the artwork.  

Galleries, Museums, Competitions, and Collections

My work has been exhibited in galleries, museums, national juried competitions. and private collections. Maker’s Mark Distillery commissioned a “Bourbon Diamond” for their permanent art collection. The Women’s Jewelry Association featured an exhibit of my gems at the 2017 Awards for Excellence Gala in New York City. Additionally, my work has been featured in national publications, local media, and will be part of a PBS series that aired initially in 2018 and continues in rotation.

WJA Gala After Dinner Display 3
Gem quilts at the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Awards For Excellence Gala (2017)

I was delighted to have been invited to have a solo show at the National Quilt Museum (Paducah, KY) in 2020. The NQM subsequently acquired one of my Bourbon Series pieces, “Char #4”, for their permanent collection. To view the Walk & Talk I did in October 2020 that described the exhibit, CLICK HERE or on the image below.

Char 4 300 dpi 4512 3008 pix all cropped rotated 1
“Char #4” (Bourbon Diamond Series) Acquired by the National Quilt Museum 2020

It’s my pleasure to share with you my passion for light and color.