The featured shop artist for the month of April is Jean Ann Fausser, a native Tulsan who uses fiber and mixed media to create wonderful works of art. We were able to ask Jean Ann some questions and received some interesting answers and great advice for other artists.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career as an artist?
I always wanted to be an artist and every time I got positive feedback, it encouraged my addiction to create art. I was given a solo exhibit at Living Arts, which encouraged me to continue creating work and to pursue it full-time.
Q: What advantages do you feel you have as an artist living in Oklahoma?
I feel that I have a unique positioning for my choices of mediums. Not many artists here use the variety of craft materials and or techniques, particularly in the combinations I’m utilizing. There is a budding, enthusiastic, and supportive artist community in Tulsa. The arts in Tulsa have exploded in the past few years and there are so many opportunities including artist residencies.
Q: In your mind, what is the difference between art quilts and traditions quilts?
In my mind, traditional quilts use patterns or reference designs already in use whereas art quilts are original. Art quilts should be an original design and there’s a lot of room for creativity in the way an art quilt is put together and finished. With traditional quilts, it is important to craft and finish them in a very particular traditional manner whereas it’s wide open with the construction and materials in art quilts.
Q: How do your materials relate to your artistic concepts?
I often start with a concept and then choose materials and techniques that will best convey the idea. In some cases, the materials are part of the concept. In others, I’m experimenting with how far I can push a technique while remaining true to my original concept. A good example would be with the knotted teapots I have created. I’ve used embroidery threads to be able to create a finer image. I used a deconstructed high heel for the handle and spout for one called Let Me Entertain You because it is inspired by the exotic dancer, Gypsy Rose Lee, and high heels were a part of her fashion.
Q: What paths led you to art quilts and how did you learn your techniques?
I was a painter originally, mostly working with watercolor, some acrylic and oil as well. Then I had a bookstore for a number of years, which kept me from having time or energy to create much art. Of course, I was always looking at art and visiting museums and galleries every chance I got. Making art was always what I wanted to do. As soon as I closed the bookstore I started exploring more materials and techniques than I had originally used. The variety of other artistic avenues such fabric dyeing, dye painting, screen-printing on fabrics, bead weaving and basketry along with wire working ignited my curiosity and enthusiasm which continues to make each day in my studio an adventure. I took classes and workshops around the country in order to learn as much as I could about all of those materials and techniques. I cannot imagine not exploring and learning new materials and techniques. Working three-dimensionally has always interested me so recently I’ve been exploring more ways to use all of these materials and techniques.
Q: How do you evolve the phases of your artwork and how does working with different materials impact these changes?
I like using different materials and techniques and with each, I explore different ways to be unique in my approach. Using wet felting techniques, I have been changing from a flat surface to creating thicker layers and cutting in strips to manipulate and create more dimensional works. I’ve just started exploring this, so I will be doing a lot more of it until I’m satisfied that I have developed the technique and perhaps move into other areas. The coiling and knotting processes are moving me into more dynamic shapes in the objects. I am not sure how this will develop in the future. The uncertainty does get me into the studio, where curiosity and exploration motivate me.
Q: What are the relationships between your art quilts and the knotting vessels you currently create?
Perhaps you can see a color palette and a tendency to add embellishments. Overall, I think it’s my concepts that drive all of my work. Sometimes it’s an esoteric idea and sometimes there is a more concrete idea. My art is not driven chiefly by texture, color, and design, although I hope to adhere to design principals and create richly textured works as well.
Q: How has becoming an artist and utilizing your creativity affected your life?
It has expanded my world in so many ways and given me focus and purpose. I look at everything as inspiration. It has also led me into supporting arts organizations and emerging artists.
Q: What advice do you have for emerging artists?
Learn your materials and techniques and pay attention to your craftsmanship with whatever you choose to do. Sloppy work or finishing detracts from anything you want to convey in your work. Go see as much art in museums and galleries as you can and most of all develop a work ethic. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. It won’t all be wonderful, but even the unsuccessful things teach us something.
Q: What is the strangest tool one would find in your studio?
A turkey deep fryer, which I use to steam my dyed silks in order to set the dyes and bring out the colors. Another unusual tool I’ve begun using is an electric carving knife like one uses to carve a turkey. I use this to cut through thick layered felted pieces so that I have strips showing the layers that I can then manipulate into 2 and 3-dimensional works.
You can find more of Jean Ann’s work on her website here: http://www.jfiberart.com/