Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jeanne Williamson: Natick, Massachusetts

Lynette Haggard Weekly Artist Interview

Jeanne Williamson at work

Lynette Haggard (LH): Can you share with my readers a little about yourself?
Jeanne: Making things has always been an important part of my life. I learned to sew at the age of twelve, and started making and/or adapting my clothes and home goods since then.

In addition to sewing, I like decorating. Besides painting the walls of my house various bright and cheerful colors, I have also filled my home with art, so it’s a colorful and comfortable place to live. And, I also collect things. My collections include eyewash cups, PEZ dispensers, variations of the letter J, and bottle openers, which are all on display in my home. If I had more room in my small house, I’d collect even more things.

Walls from Fences

LH: Where did you grow up and what (if any) were there any early influences on your work?
Jeanne: I lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until I was ten, and then my family moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts, where I lived until I went to college back in Philadelphia.

LH: Where do you live now?
Jeanne: I live in Natick, Massachusetts, which is 18 miles west of Boston.

LH: Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in?
Jeanne: I have a BFA in Fibers from Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), and also a MSAEd in Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art.

LH: At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Jeanne: I remember liking to make things when I was as young as five years old. 

LH: Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Jeanne: Since I was in grade school, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else than being an artist.

LH: Can you describe bit about your work in general?
Jeanne: I am very interested in working with monoprints of orange construction fences, and how they relate to nature, architecture, and to other construction fence patterns. 

Weathered Fences 1

LH: What is your media?
Jeanne: I describe my work as mixed media, because my artwork is a combination of printmaking, painting, collage, and sometimes stitching. 

LH: What is your current work about?  
Jeanne: At the present time, I am working on boards, or with fabric that has been stitched and stiffened, so it appears more like paper or plastic.

LH: What is your workspace like? 
Jeanne: After working in my in-home studio for 25 years, I recently moved in to a studio in the center of the town I live in. The studio is very small, 177 square feet, but it's a good transition space. It has both good natural and artificial light (especially compared to my in-home studio), and it's two miles from my house, so I can drive or walk.

In my in-home studio, I had less than 4’ of useable wall space to hang in-progress work on so I could see it. In my new studio, I have 8’, which has been wonderful when working on larger work or on a series. I also have a lot of wall space to hang finished work. At home, I had to box and put away work because there was no place to display it.

LH: Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you? 
Jeanne: I admit that I don’t read a lot of books, and that I tend to read magazines and newspapers. Over the summer I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I’m trying to decide if I want to start reading Room by Emma Donohue, or Chuck Close | Life by Christopher Finch next. Both are of great interest. I also want to read Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Many friends have recommended it.

Williamson's studio

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Jeanne: Yes, I do freelance web design.

LH: If so, please give us some details.
Jeanne: I create websites for artists, authors, and small businesses. I really enjoy it because, just like making my own artwork, there’s a lot of creativity in it, and I enjoy problem solving and working with other people, to make sure they have an affordable website they are proud of.

Over the years, I have always had jobs that were art related in one way or another. I’ve worked as an art teacher for children and adults with different physical and emotional disabilities, doing type design, computer graphics, and I’ve also written a book about using recycled materials and unusual materials when creating quilted journals.

Slivers of Fences

LH: Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
Jeanne: My goals are to keep pushing my work to a higher level, to exhibit my work in more one and two-person shows (hopefully including in at least one museum), and to build some relationships with some art consultants and galleries.
And while I’m not in any rush to do this, I would like a larger studio space some day.

LH: Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
Jeanne: I will have a piece in Icons + Altars 
at the
New Art Center in Newtonville, MA, from November 12 - December 12, 2010.

I will also be in a two-person show called Stretch at Tennessee State University in early 2011.

You can learn more about Jeanne on her website is http://www.jeannewilliamson.com, or her blog is http://jeannewilliamson.blogspot.com

Thank you Jeanne!


Nancy Natale said...

Thanks for introducing me to Jeanne, Lynette. I like her work and liked hearing about her process.

Maureen said...

Excellent interview complemented with images of some lovely work.

Wen said...

Thank you for some insights into Jeanne. I have admired her work for some time. I like how she describes her work as mixed media.
Taking fiber beyond normal expectations is an interest I share.