It’s a magical moment when artists discover their chosen medium, imagination igniting in that split second when fingers first sink into clay or brush paint across a canvas. For Delray Beach artist Michelle Drummond, something more unexpected seized her creative urge: yarn. With it, she weaves intricate sculptures ranging from surreal abstractions to playful renderings of architecture and human bodies.
“I don’t think I chose fiber. Fiber chose me,” Drummond laughs. Her early experiments began in a college art class she took as refuge from her major in math. Tasked with creating a linear piece, she recalled street artisans from her childhood in Jamaica and the decorative crafts they made from looping yarn around nails hammered into a board. She adapted their techniques, eventually forgoing nails and contouring the yarn with glue to form three- dimensional shapes, and soon found her calling.
While Drummond pursued a successful corporate career, art remained a constant outlet, blossoming into her full-time practice in 2018. At her Arts Warehouse studio, she meticulously glues her compositions directly onto canvases and wood panels. As she discovered, the softness of the fiber offers expressive pliancy. “I loved the challenge of transforming it into a solid, structural form,” the artist says. For her three- dimensional works, Drummond favors sturdy cotton to build sound structure and lighter weighted yarn to add bulk and texture. “It’s about knowing what weight and feel will work for the look you want,” she explains.
Under layers of whimsy, Drummond’s work explores current events, optimism and her dual experiences as an immigrant. Her “Risk Taker” series, for instance, depicts doors of opportunity and self-empowerment waiting to be pried open. The neon-colored hues she uses, meanwhile, capture tropical nostalgia for her homeland. “Those colors lift me up,” the artist says. “I want others to be impacted in a similar way.”
Recently, Drummond was chosen as the first Black woman of Jamaican heritage to create a piece for the Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach. Revealed in March, The Metamorphosis is a 7-foot-tall yarn tree covered in butterfly figurines. “The butterflies represent hopefulness and the unlimited possibilities that emerge through an organic transformation from one form to another,” she explains—much like the medium that changed her life.