This Arlington Artist’s Style Uses Salvaged Textiles

Mixed-media artist Lis Sartori crafts intricate textile art from salvaged materials.

Echo, hand-dyed fabric, yarn, and string, $3,800, / Courtesy photo

Arlington-based artist Lis Sartori has always felt the calmest while making art. She spent college and graduate school fine-tuning her skills in printmaking, painting, and illustration but never thought she’d make the jump to 3-D. “I don’t know why I was scared to death of it,” the mixed-media artist says. “But the second I got my hands on fibers, it was like this whole new world.” This whole new world was opened, more specifically, while working as a display artist for Anthropologie and making a “living wall” from reclaimed materials, including hand-dyed paper, yarn, and string. From then on, she was hooked.

In 2020, the pandemic gave Sartori the opportunity to dive into fine art full time, and she developed her signature mixed-media style—characterized by intricately woven pieces of salvaged textiles that are folded, pushed, stacked, and manipulated to create lively designs.

Sartori builds her works into large-scale frames that she crafts herself, then attaches the brightly dyed scraps of curtains, tablecloths, and old clothes (collected from Goodwill or donated by friends) onto a metal grid. The result? An abstract, pixelated creation that looks largely unlike fabric at all—until you see the intricate and painstakingly constructed details up close.

“Art is wonderful when it teaches a lesson and it comments on society and makes change,” she says. “But it’s also wonderful when it just makes people happy.”