Tufting Nostalgia | Mingei International Museum

Born and raised in San Diego, textile artist, Denja Harris, plays with color, shapes, texture, and a little nostalgia to create her fiber works of art. Her textile art reveals how function and design can elevate everyday objects.

Can you share a little about yourself and your creative background?

I’m a sensitive Capricorn so creating helps me process being a human. Growing up, my mom taught me how to sew and I taught myself how to embroider, which naturally led to me exploring other forms of textile art. Back in 2018, I was on YouTube researching chain stitch embroidery machines and came across a video of someone using a tufting gun. The idea of painting with yarn excited me in a way I’ve never felt before!

Where do you find inspiration?

Bold colors spark my inspiration, as well as playful nostalgia, interesting textures, memories from my past, and daydreams of the future.

What’s your creative process? What materials do you use in your work?

It’s very intuitive and very much in the realm of “when I feel like it”. If I’m not feeling it, I won’t force it! Sometimes I’ll stretch a blank piece of cloth on my frame and leave it for a few weeks before I start working on it. Right now, I'm having fun experimenting! I’ve bought some vintage tools that I'm playing around with, while also learning more about the history of rug making.

For materials, I really like sourcing vintage, deadstock, and secondhand yarn because some of the colors from the past are really special. I also really try to use natural fibers like cotton and wool. Different yarn fibers hold color differently and they all have their own unique textures.

Please Note

Stay up to date on Museum happenings by subscribing to our newsletter.