Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fiber Artist Jane Herrick

Old Man River
23" x 19" x 5"
cotton rag paper, acrylic, cheesecloth, thread

Studio artist and SDA member Jane Herrick loves texture. While some of her raw materials are common in any studio, she often looks to nature for texture and inspiration. Jane's career began with a paintbrush and charcoal, eventually branching out into the world of fiber, mixed media and three-dimensional work. Her pieces beautifully incorporate paint, paper, linen, and ink with treasures such as feathers, snakeskin, leather, nails and even hog casing. Jane graciously gave SDA this interview:

What is your art/education background?

I have a B.A. in Art Education at Michigan State University and an M.A. in Textile and Design from The University of Iowa.  I have taught art at the high school level for 7 years and at the university level for 17 years.

How would you describe your artwork? How has it evolved over time?
Transparent Self
21" x 10.5" x 4.5"
fiber rush, waxed linen, steel, enamel paint

I began as a painter but gradually saw drawing as a more direct method for getting ideas down quickly. I began working in fibers in the early seventies but continued  drawing and working in collage.  Tactile and visual surface textures that I would see in nature as well as other art work strongly impacted me, and I found myself  gradually incorporating textural materials into my two-dimensional pieces.  I would combine these with drawing, laser prints, and fabric.  My latest work is  both three-dimensional and two-dimensional.  I mold fiber over an armature, and  incorporate a variety of mixed media onto a canvas or panel.   Both approaches  give me the latitude to expand on ideas and meaning through the use of various structures and materials.

How do you work in the studio e.g. do you work on several pieces at one time? What processes do you use?

I work on several different pieces at the same time when I am working in my studio.  However, the pieces each have ‘a voice’ and ‘communicate’ with each other.  One informs the other. One of my favorite processes, is to experiment with new materials to see what the material can do.  I create new ideas and techniques with this approach that otherwise I would not have discovered with more careful pre-planning.  For example, part of a sculptural form might find itself in a drawing, painting or collage, and the mark making in a drawing will cross over and become surface texture on a three-dimensional form.         

Do you exhibit your work? What type of venues do you prefer and why?

I do exhibit my work in regional, national and international juried shows. I have also exhibited in a variety of galleries in the past and currently am represented by two galleries, the Obsidian Gallery in Tucson, AZ, and Gallery Ten in Door County, WI.  I like both venues to show my work.   A good gallery owner will work hard to represent and promote their artist’s work, and I find this is an important criteria in looking for gallery representation.  Also, I was selected to   have one of my pieces exhibited in the Fiberart International Exhibit in  Pittsburgh in 2010. The piece will travel for two years to Rochester, NY and San Francisco, CA.

What Do I Call Myself? no. 3
12" x 14"
wisteria vine, raffia, tin bugles, cheesecloth, acrylic 

12.5" x 12.5 x 9.5
reed, black ash, waxed linen
Currently traveling in Fiberart International exhibit

What inspires your work?

My inspiration comes from materials that I use, my environment in which I live…what I see around me, and the interaction of human relationships. I use a wide range of diverse materials which link ideas to a final piece. I like the unusualness of opposite materials working hand in fur and staples, and thread and wood. Poetry and musical lyrics also inspire me and I reinterpret these ideas with materials and structures that envelope new ideas but evoke continual questions.

Do you ever get "blocked"?  How do you deal with that?

I do get periods of being “blocked” and one of the best antidotes for me is to paint on large surfaces whether canvas, paper or wood panels. I boldly experiment with shape, color, texture and composition, using paint, papers, etc. and a variety of tools. This helps to loosen up my mind, free me from distracting worries, forget about failure and relax! I really feel this is so important for creativity and making art. I also look at a lot of art…traditional and contemporary.

What's the best advice you've ever received/given?

Keep focused! Keep working. Get in the studio everyday. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do what you want to do.

Have you had a "light bulb" moment which changed the path of your artwork?

Mutual Attraction
12"x 10" x 6" 

Yes, I can say that I had a “light bulb” moment several years ago when I was taking a paper making class at the University of Minnesota.  My roles as mother, wife, teacher and student were fracturing me into pieces and I felt an enormous amount of tension, conflict and burden.  A voice within me wanted to create and needed to be heard to make me feel complete and whole.  So in this class I created a sculptural piece out of frustration which I titled, “The Beast Within”. It became a metaphor resembling the child within…an irony of adult responsibility conflicting with an inner desire to invent, imagine and discover.  It was a release to be able to create what I was feeling at that moment.  Since that time, I have listened to my inner voice to direct me in trying to create what is meaningful and important in my life.

Jane in her studio

Jane lives in northwestern Wisconsin. To see more of her art, visit her website and the following venues:

Jane Herrick
The Obsidian Gallery
Memorial Art Gallery of Rochester
San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design

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