“… [I] found that finding the fabric [I needed] tended to influence the images I created.” - the artist
Q: What led you to become a textile / photography artist?
A: I have always had a love for photography, but honestly I left it behind for a long time. Most often, I use photography to develop a specific idea very quickly and precisely. Coming back to photography in grad school was a new challenge, but it forced me to get creative and use a medium I had been experimenting with for a long time: fibers. Growing up I had always loved to watch my mom use her retro sewing machine from the 70’s and she taught me how to hand stitch so I could feel involved. I even went to 4H camp and learned practical applications for sewing there. Until recently I was actually afraid of sewing machines, the thought of running my finger through it, and did everything by hand. I taught myself tricks to stitch through paper and found I liked the outcome and wanted to use it more often, thus the idea of merging photo prints and textiles together. While I identify as a mixed media artist, because different media are better for different concepts, my exploration into textiles and photography has been enlightening.
Q: What inspires your subject matter?
A: What inspires my subject matter is usually my personal experiences and whatever feelings I am grappling with. Living with generalized anxiety disorder, with a hint of depression, makes art an outlet to express my trouble and allows me to escape reality for a bit. I draw great inspiration from my peers and professors as well as artists such as Priya Kambli, Francesca Woodman, and Molly McCall. I love to read and actually have my undergraduate degree in Literary Studies, so my goal with art is to create a narrative or feeling that is similar to the ones I experience while reading my favorite authors such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Neil Gaiman, and Octavia Butler. I think life can be magical and see it as an ongoing art piece, so my art is really an extension of myself and my life.
Q: Can you describe the materials you use and your creative process?
A: For “Security Blanket” I utilized used textiles and thread that I was able to find at “Scrap,” our local art supplies resale shop, and found that finding the fabric tended to influence the images I created. For example, finding a square of beautiful cross-stitching, I decided I wanted to have an image that featured a majority of the square, which led to the piece “I Will Keep Ignoring the Pattern.” Re-purposing what might have otherwise been trash, especially since textiles are one of the largest sources of waste, is not only better for the environment but also inspires my creative practice. Overall, I would describe my process as full of trial and error, emphasis on error, but fortunately being in graduate school lets me get advice and insight from my peers and professors. I think having someone who will tell you when something is working and when it is not is crucial, but also remembering that not everything you make needs to be appreciated by anyone but you. Sometimes it’s okay to make now and judge later.
Q: We were impressed with your Best in Show piece, titled ‘I'm Sinking Down the Drain', as well as the rest of the collection you submitted obviously. Tell us more about this piece/series.
A: This series was completed within my first semester of graduate school and honestly was quite the struggle. I needed a way to face the experiences I had the prior year and investigated the concept of “manipulating images” as I had felt manipulated by others in my life. All the images are self portraits taken in places I feel comfortable and safe, but the alteration of the images within these spaces is a reflection of the pervasive nature of being manipulated. I use bright, colorful patterns as a way to attract the viewer to issues that are normally ignored. Additionally, this series is very much about recovering from self harm by cutting into images of myself with an exacto blade, revealing the fabric stitched behind. I think we can all relate to wishing we could hide underneath the blankets and pretend the monsters of life aren’t really there.
Q: What do you hope for viewers to take away from your art?
A: I want my viewers can gain new appreciation for what is usually considered “craft” and can begin to view it as a fine art media. The weird divide between fine art and craft is interesting because both take enormous skill and effort but they are viewed as being “high-brow” and “low-brow.” By incorporating traditional craft into my work, I aim to close the divide between different types of making.
In addition to an appreciation for traditional arts, I hope that through my titles and body language within the portraiture that the viewer experiences a feeling of unease. While the colors and patterns are meant to attract the viewer, my ultimate goal is that by looking closer they also pick up on a sense of uneasiness or discomfort.
Q: How do you view your art career in five years?
A: In five years I will, hopefully, be utilizing my MFA in painting from TWU to teach at the university level or in a museum setting. I have always wanted to teach art, and after interning at both the DMA and Kimbell, I realized that I enjoyed working with teens and older students. I am inspired by all the wonderful professors and teachers I have had throughout my academic career and hope I can have a similar impression on my students. Additionally, I am motivated by all my inadequate professors because it compels me to ensure students don’t have similar experiences in my classroom. I will, of course, still be creating and making art and I dream to have a functional home studio that is more than just the cluttered desk I currently work on. While the art world is tricky, I believe a new era of artists are emerging that are more accepting to all creatives and I aspire to be a part of a new generation that is less focused on exclusivity and more so on accessibility.
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