Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Self Fabricated- Jan Johnson

The work of another Self Fabricated artist is the stitcher Jan Johnson, also one of the sweetest artists I have ever met. I have worked with Jan a few times as a curator and find her work both a mystery and totally compelling. She first began stitching, much like me, in graduate school and has yet to stop since then. She is trained as a painter and very much considers her works stitched drawings and paintings.

Her work felt quiet and unassuming in the gallery, traditionally framed and neatly hung in a row. But the effect of this with all of the exposed fiber pieces was to draw you in close to examine her non-traditional and fluid way of stitching and the repeated shapes and patterns that appear in her work.

Her work is abstract without much but the titles to give you a key into her subject. But within their ambiguity they feel heartbreakingly vulnerable and raw.

She says this about her work:
The forms I build contain narratives of place, memory and relationships. How I construct these forms grows out of an understanding I have of the brain and its interior design. Cross-sections, maps and landscapes diagram and unfold the different levels of thought, comprehension and awareness that reside in the brain...
Landscapes depict piles of color, weaving a mass I suppose as a brain, mostly my own, but sometimes includes my grandmother’s failing brain and sometimes my daughter’s newly forming brain. Existing in an invented landscape, I re-contextualize this form and re-plant my memories and thoughts of our lives at different stages. Simultaneously, they are memoirs and also presagements. 

In the recent works I have exchanged brush and pigment for needle and thread... I am interested in using maps, architectural and diagrammatic structures and imagery from science to construct my compositions, both formally and narratively. These maps and structures are personal geographies and refer to the body both imaginatively and physically. The density of stitches creates a flesh-like quality on the surface, while often the cloth is left with punctures, pulled and cut threads from the underside and pigment that has bled from the thread.

 Her kimono response piece, seen above, was to me one of the most compelling; combining a cheap polyester "kimono" nightie of her grandmothers, with drawings of her daughter (then embroidered,)
and her own representations of the female body. The work is compelling, beautiful and repulsive as she combines 3 generations of women.

See more of Jan here

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