Monday, April 9, 2018

In the Home Stretch

It is amazing that 6 months have gone by in a blink. Art + Craft is in its last two months. Last week was a blur of cutting raffle tickets, sewing on a queen size quilt binding, and assembling raffle ticket packages to go home with 328 students. I also taught a class, cooked meals and managed to come up with an idea for a future project.
The mind's capacity is at times unyielding. Why do these ideas pop into our heads when we are already filled to the brim with work?


Overwhelm has happened during the last six months more often than I would have liked. Building a new skill set is overwhelming for most people and I am certainly not an exception to that. I wouldn't change that right now though. While the pace might makes me feel breathless, it feels like it is necessary to who I am as a creative being. Which I also worry makes me rather a challenge to be around right now. Often I have a sensation of pulling myself apart to reassemble myself again in my next version. I have done this before. I most likely will do it again in the future. 
So stamina, holding and breathing. Not letting my mind jump too far ahead on the to-do list. And trusting the bigger picture to work towards its logical conclusion are key right now, as I stand for a moment and pause looking down the home stretch.


Raffle quilt tickets are now on sale. Visit: https://quiltingcommunity.blogspot.ca/2018/04/raffle-sales-have-begun.html to learn more about how to purchase a ticket and support Forest Grove Elementary.

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JJ

Monday, March 5, 2018

Full Circle Artist Lecture

I am pleased to announce that I will be sharing an overview of my work this Thursday March 8, 2018 for the North Shore Needle Arts Guild. The lecture is called Full Circle: An Artist's Journey and I am looking forward to meeting and sharing with Guild members.
I will also be bringing a trunk show of some of the work in the presentation.

A piece I made in art school: Life After Death, 1999


Detail from Crow's Nest, 2017


To book a lecture or sign up for my newsletter please contact me via my website at: http://www.jenniejohnston.com/

JJ

Monday, February 5, 2018

Behind the Art: Life Lines

Life Lines was created as a site specific piece for Window which is an art display vitrine at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre in downtown Vancouver, BC.

Life Lines, mixed media quilt, 2014

The broad sense of the message behind this work was to talk about the isolation that city life encourages when everyone is closed into their individual condos and apartments. The clothesline represented both an ecological symbol of using the sun to dry our clothing as was common in previous generations (and is still used in many homes across the earth to this day) and a social connection that could unite city dwellers.


The contrast between the muted colours of the buildings and the vibrant faces looking out and holding the clothesline was my favourite part of this piece.



For more please visit www.jenniejohnston.com

JJ

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Looking for Center: 2017 in Review

It is that reflection and goal setting time of year again. I shared 16 posts in this space in 2017. I think I'm ok with that. Considering that it was one of the busiest years of my adult life. I've gathered some numbers for taking stock of the year.  I do not usually do this but I felt like it would help me put things in perspective.

Taken on Salt Spring Island, BC July 2017

I often felt a sensation of being in limbo despite pushing myself further than I ever had before. Looking back on the year this way has given me piece of mind that I have indeed achieved more than I thought. That is a reassuring feeling and it is helping to keep the limbo feeling in the background. Here are some numbers about my year.

Number of Completed Pieces: 5
Grants Written & Applied for: 2
Grants Received: 1
Art Sales: 2
Exhibitions Applied For: 10
Exhibitions: 4
Exhibition Rejections: 7
Art Related Articles Published: 2 (SAQA Journal Summer & Fall issues)
Press Coverage: 2 (Friendship Show UDHR Embroidery)
Art Exhibitions visited: 7 (a number I'd like to increase for 2018)
Attended SAQA Western Canada Regional Retreat in Kelowna, BC
Became SAQA Western Canada Regional Representative
Began my first Artist Residency at Forest Grove Elementary School
Began a part-time job at Mackin House Museum
Craftivist project artist for UDHR Quilt Project
Set up a Monthly newsletter
Set up a Facebook artist's page

These are career related accomplishments of course. There were many more parts to this life. Turning 40, sharing time with family, reading 36 books, travelling to some lovely locations, raising two boys and maintaining our crazy family of 4 life.

Installation view of Look In, Reach Out at the Zack Gallery, Vancouver BC, May 2017


A few thoughts to ponder as we move forward in 2018.

Why think about the rejections?  They are just as important as the acceptances.
Do you reflect on the passing years in your art practice? I do.  My project is called Memory Keeper and is now going into its 10th year.  Here are some past examples of the small pieces I make to mark each year.
2008 2010 2011 2012

Here's to an art filled 2018.

JJ

Friday, October 27, 2017

Making Your Studio Work for You

Space and making art go hand and hand. I have seen the lengths that artists will go to to make their work. Often the circumstances are less than ideal, and perhaps you, like me, have dreamed of a large, open, light filled studio space in which to create all day long.
The reality is that many of us need to work where we live. Especially in urban environments rent prices are high and space is at a premium. As you are building your audience and artistic practice it is often not cost effective to rent out a separate space for working in.
This is certainly the case for myself at this stage in my career. I love to look at artist work spaces and dream of "someday" but what am I doing in the meantime?

The third bedroom of our townhouse is my studio space.  It is not a large room, it measures around 10 by 15 feet.  The other function of this space is that it has to be a guest room.  The first thing my husband and I considered when we were setting the space up was how to make it comfortable for guests who would be using the space 20% of the year, and how to optimise the space as a studio/office the majority of the year. We decided that a Murphy Bed installed in the closet space was our best option.




While the guest room is set up my studio is placed into rubber bins and moved into the master bedroom against the far wall.



I have streamlined the process to get the moving part down to about 30 minutes and everything fits under or over top of height adjustable desks. It has taken me several years to get my studio this efficient.



And when everything is set up again as a studio I make the most of the space I do have. I am grateful to have a designated space no matter how small. 

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JJ

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My First Artist Residency


My current days are filled with the preparations for a very special project that has been in development now for about 10 months.

Last winter and spring I wrote a grant application for an Artist in the Classroom Grant from ArtStarts in Schools whose mission is to provide innovative arts programs for young people.  My project was funded which means that I will be working at my neighbourhood Elementary school for most of this 2017-2018 school year.

My sons attend Forest Grove Elementary and being able to work alongside the wonderful teachers and staff at the school made creating this project that much more meaningful. The project is called Art + Craft: Young Hands Quilting Community. It will explore the capacity of a quilt to be both an art and functional object. For more information about the project and to follow along please subscribe to the dedicated blog: Quilting Community or on Instagram Young Hands Quilting.

Getting here has been a lot of work. Getting to the finish line of this project, May 31st 2018 will mean a lot more work. I have doubted myself and getting even this far many times. The learning curve on such an opportunity is huge. I think the key to getting through it all so far has been a driving passion to share my love of the quilted form and to connect that passion to the young people that are part of my community.

This feels like a great step towards an engaged and deepening art practice. And I will share more about this journey as it unfolds.

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JJ

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Universal Declaration for Human Rights Quilt Update

As we find ourselves getting back into our fall routines Tal Fitzpatrick is collecting the last quilt blocks as they arrive in Australia for 4 quilts that will be made for this exciting craftivist project. You can find my first two posts detailing the beginnings of the project here and here.

I sent off my block in the mail in early August and after some nervous days of waiting I was relieved to see that it arrived just fine.




I mentioned the inspiration behind each element to my block in the post linked above. Overall, I hope this piece demonstrates four different textile cultures that coexist today despite the attempt by two to overthrow the other two. There are so many wonderful textile based arts in First Nations culture and they stand proudly beside European based textile works to tell rich and varied stories of people and their handiwork over the centuries.

What a monumental task Tal and her volunteers are going to have to piece and quilt all these blocks together.  Many important issues relating to Human Rights today and in the past are featured. You can visit Tal's Instagram feed to view many of the blocks. I will update you all about the project as it progresses.

You are welcome to follow along through my monthly newsletter or click here for other ways to keep up to date.

JJ