More than 35 years ago, Kathy Peterson of Redwood Falls started turning pheasant feathers into pieces of art "just for the fun of it."
But once she got into it, it swiftly became a serious part of her life.
Peterson's feather art will be on display through Jan. 18 at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council's arts center in downtown Marshall.
Peterson grew up in Minneapolis and said that although she started on a different career path, she was always drawn to the arts.
"I was always interested in creating things, and art and music were a big part of my life," Peterson said. "I'm a knitter, crocheter. I love doing crafts."
Peterson worked as a secretary for more than three decades and got her bachelor's degree in elementary education, with a concentration in art in music from Southwest State University in 1990.
"I took a lot of classes on drawing and painting and it did help a little bit," she said.
But she discovered feather art well before she went to school at SSU. She and a friend started "feathering" back in 1975 just for fun.
"It was just out of curiosity because my husband is a pheasant hunter," Peterson said.
Pretty soon, people wanted Peterson and her friend to start making feather art objects for them. But when she decided to go to college, Peterson said feathering was put aside.
"It's been on and off over the years," she said.
In 2004, she had some prints made of her feather art. About five years ago, she started doing what she calls "Grandma daycare," figuring that she could do some art while the baby's asleep.
"I'm trying to get myself back into it again," Peterson said.
Peterson is a member of the Tatanka Arts organization that is based in Redwood Falls.
"Art is interesting for me," she said. "I have to be in the right frame of mind to be creative." She said that when she returns to an art, she'll come back with a little, new perspective on things.
When she started feather art back in the mid-'70s, it was mostly round-shaped pieces. Peterson said she glues the feathers onto the leather. The feathers are cut off the pheasant's skin, and Peterson never trims the end of the feather.
"The shape of the feather is completely natural," she said. "I use the feather's design to create the design I'm looking for." She's made butterflies and some owls with her feather art.
A few years ago, she was inspired to go further in her feathering, trying out different things, such as making three ducks, a bear, a buffalo, a turtle and a great big owl.
"Those are moments I was stretching to create something unique and different," she said.
According to Peterson's artist statement, her feather art is created exclusively from the feathers of the male ring-necked pheasant and that her designs are original. She was once told "your artwork begs to be touched." Her designs are created in geometric and impressionistic shapes and mounted in shadow box frames.
She's been told that her artwork has an American Indian look.
"I learned I do have Native American blood from my father," she said. "I didn't learn about that until I was in my 40s." Peterson has an Ojibwe heritage, she said.
In her artist statement, Peterson said she admires the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and was inspired by her use of the natural world to express herself.
"Through my feathering, I believe that I'm arriving at my own creative interpretation of the beauty around me," Peterson said in her artist statement.