Artist Tina Puckett dyes natural materials for her woven art work in a variety of colors, many of which are made from boughs and limbs she gathers herself. Puckett’s work is on display at the Westport Library until Feb. 28. / Photos by Gary Webster

By Gretchen Webster

Tina Puckett

WESTPORT — Natural beauty is explored by two artists whose work is now on display at the Westport Library.

Works by Richard Rauh, a longtime resident of Westport, and Tina Puckett, a former Westport resident and graduate of Staples High School, are showcased through the end of February.

The Rauh exhibit features his intricate botanical paintings, while Puckett is displaying woven artwork using natural materials gathered locally.

Puckett will meet with Westport artist Miggs Burroughs for a conversation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, in the library. Rauh also will discuss his work with Burroughs in a program at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. Both artists’ work will be on view at the library through Feb. 28. 

Puckett, a member of the Artists Collective of Westport, weaves color and creativity into each piece using the undulating shapes of the bittersweet plant and reeds, never knowing exactly what she is creating until it is finished.

“The bittersweet speaks to me,” she said. “I don’t draw my work first. As I work it, it tells me what to do.”

A woven artwork by Tina Puckett.

Her work includes wall hangings and mobiles with hues of natural colors, as well as woven furniture and sculpture, all featuring the twisted vines and reeds. 

Her pieces create the illusion of movement with the interwoven boughs. “It’s always moving, it always looks alive,” she said.

Not only does she mix her own colors to dye natural materials into various shades, she gathers the branches and limbs herself around Connecticut.

“Don’t drive with me on the Merritt Parkway,” she laughs, because she’s sure to stop to haul bittersweet boughs back to her studio. 

And don’t ask her how long it will take to make a piece “Time is not relevant to me when I create an art work,” she said. 

Puckett began using the unusual medium of natural materials in an adult education basket-weaving class after attending Ithaca College and the Lester Polakov School in New York City, where she studied theater set design.

When her early baskets were purchased by friends, she realized that she was working in a medium that had potential for her artistically and professionally. Since then, she continues to cross the boundaries of what can be achieved in woven work.

“I’m always pursuing that limit — asking myself what else can I create?”

Puckett has a studio and gallery at Whiting Mills in Winsted, where she exhibits and sells her work along with 40 other artists. Her work has also been shown internationally and locally.

For more information about Puckett’s work, visit her website.

Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist and journalism teacher for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman newspaper for 10 years and currently teaches journalism at Southern Connecticut State University.