Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sheldon Art Galleries- Jane Birdsall-Lander

EXHIBITING GALLERY: The Sheldon Art Galleries

TITLE OF SHOW: The Language of Objects

OPENING DATE AND CLOSING DATE: September 25, 2009 - January 16, 2010

The Sheldon Art Galleries
3648 Washington Bvld.
St. Louis, Missouri  63108

Submitted by Artist: Jane Birdsall-Lander

Tell us a bit more about yourself; your location, professional affiliations, personal stuff…  

After enjoying the camaraderie of  neighboring artists on Washington Avenue for many years, I now work at home.  I thought I might not like this arrangement but timing is everything and the price is right.  With my kids out of the house there’s plenty of room for me here.  I have a studio on the third floor with a   basement shop that I share with my husband.  Since I also work in the non-profit community as an educational consultant and write interdisciplinary curricula (see www. and I have a second floor study filled with books where I have my computer.  While my children were young I compartmentalized my art making so that I’d be available to the family when I was home. While I still seek balance… now my life is all of one piece 

What is the source of your creativity?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things and trying to make sense of the world.  I spent a lot of time alone when I was a kid and I never got bored…sometimes I was lonely but then, for instance, I’d cut up the curtains in my room and make little flags out of them.  Each flag had a personality all its own and would be there in the next morning when I woke up.  This delighted me.  I was lucky.  In terms of art and intellect my parents believed in self-expression. 

How much of your creativity comes from within and how much comes from outside sources?

The energy that drives my desire to make things is like breathing for me-that is it just is; I can’t really turn off the switch.  I’m very much engaged with the physical world as well as with language and ideas, all of which informs my work.  When something triggers an ah-ha feeling I follow the cue.  Years ago I built a rock cairn in my backyard that I can see from my studio…it’s a touchstone for my mind’s eye. 

Could you do art without an audience?

If I couldn’t make art without an audience I wouldn’t still be making it. 

Did you chose or were you chosen to do art?

Neither.   I’ve always colored outside the lines and/or drawn my own lines.  This is literally true.  My Dad wouldn’t allow coloring books in the house and instead I was   given large rolls of shelf paper that I could do with as I pleased. At a very early age I was encouraged to take risks with whatever it was I thought to write, draw or to make with my hands. 

Define fiber art through your lens as an artist or audience member. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here.  First of all, it seems to me that the term fiber art is an unfortunate word choice.  It’s a term that at this point in time may be outdated and if a viewer, curator or artist insists upon labeling and categorizing in reference to materials then the term textile art is much more descriptive.  Admittedly I’m sensitive to language but let’s face it in 2009 the word fiberis most commonly associated with dietary issues.    Secondly, and more important, is the fact that in the contemporary art world there are no boundaries in terms of content, process or materials; pigeonholing artists and their artworks in terms of the materials chosen seems passé and perhaps not well considered.    

Rather than confining themselves to one technique or material many artists move fluidly from one medium to another their work driven by concepts.  Others stay with one material and/or technique but imbue their oeuvre with such internal originality that it redefines previously set limits for a particular medium.  It doesn’t matter what materials or techniques an artist uses so much as it matters whether the work has the intrinsic qualities that make it art rather than non art.  Period.  

Sam Gilliam is an artist who manipulated canvas to reconceptualize the traditional format of a painting.   The Geez Bend quilts are art.  No one has ever considered Christo to be a textile artist but rather an artist pure and simple. What about Sheila Hicks, Harmony Hammond, Eva Hesse, Nick Cave, Robert Rauschenberg, Lee Bontecou, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Kiki Smith, Claes Oldenburg, Polly Apfelbaum, Lenore Tawney and Wendell Castle; all are artists who have incorporated fabric into their art.

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