Caitlin Zeller – Denver, CO


Originally from Ohio, I received my BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University with concentrations in Metalsmithing and Ceramics. Over the next six years I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and lived in both Australia and New Orleans while traveling in the surrounding areas. In 2018 I moved to Denver, CO where I started once again to work in metals, as well as beginning to explore working in fibers. Over the past couple years I have begun combining the two mediums in my work, enjoying the challenge of integrating the soft and hard together into one piece. I seek to use recycled and found materials to create sustainable works which seek to shed light on many of the environmental concerns currently facing our world.

Artist Statement:

The diversity in even a small patch of reef is astounding. The more one looks, the more fine, intricate details one sees. In my work, I aim to draw viewers in so they stop and linger, searching for those hidden details. I hope to inspire awe for these splendid ecosystems that are rapidly disappearing.

My pieces evolve organically, slowly growing stitch by stitch. Incorporating yarn, thread, metal, beads, and found objects, I weave the soft and hard together into a single reef. While recognizable as coral, my reefs are born more of my imagination, inspired by my memories, and dreams.

Although vast, our world is fragile too. The difference in a healthy and dead reef is striking, the effects global. Impacting our world is unavoidable, however, we must work to preserve and protect it. Evidence of climate change is all around us, we cannot ignore the signs. We must change or we risk losing forever so much of the wonder it holds.


Growing up in land-locked Ohio, coral reefs were places that I could only imagine, or see pictures of in books or online. When I lived in Australia I was able to visit these reefs and finally see them first hand. The shells, coral, and stones found in this piece were all collected on the beach during my time here. I remember being in awe of the color, texture, and biodiversity I found when diving on the reefs, but also saddened by how starkly it contrasted with the bleached and colorless sections. The difference was striking, and the effects of coral bleaching everywhere. Coral only grows at a rate of about 1 cm a year. Ocean acidification, rising temperatures, and pollution are all causing reefs to die at a much faster rate. 10% are already dead. Estimates say it will be 50% by 2030. With this piece I hope to challenge and remind people that we must change our ways or these unique and intricate environments may be lost forever?

Techniques Used: The majority of the piece is made using various embroidery stitches. I also used metalsmithing techniques to fabricate the silver, brass, and copper elements that were then sewn into the piece.

Materials Sourced From Nature: Shells & coral found on the beach, silkworm cocoons

Other Materials Used: Linen, yarn, embroidery thread, beads, sterling silver, copper, & brass

Measurements: 9" x 21" x 1"

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