Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sheldon Art Galleries- Jo Stealey

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: Jo Stealey

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

My husband and I live in a rural environment along the Missouri River in central Missouri. We built a straw bale home (appropriate for a fiber artist). The entire first floor is my studio and overlooks rolling hills and a small pond as well as a plethora of wildlife. This environment is my center and a primary influence for my work. Also I am a professor of art at MU and head of the fiber program. Recently I was given the dubious distinction of a “Nerd of Mizzou” 


Apart from creating things, what do you do? What is a typical day for you?


As a professor of fibers I teach papermaking, bookbinding, weaving, surface design, basketry and many other textile related media, In a single day I may advise students, work in the studio on my own work, organize community exhibitions converse with artist friends throughout the country, read aloud with my husband whatever book we currently read together, garden, take a long walk, but seldom do I sit and do nothing. 

Please describe your creative process: how you create, when, where, with what materials… 

My creative process can begin with inspiration from just about anything, a conversation, a walk in the woods, a visit to a museum or a poem. The inspiration is worked out through thumbnail sketches and written notes in a journal. Often a gathering and processing of the materials is integral. Pulps for paper are made from plant materials such as flax, iris leaves, okra or cotton in a Hollander beater. Leaves are gathered and processed to become archival paper and armatures are made from river willow. My process is often inspired as well as tied directly to nature and the environment where I live. 

How do you go about creating a piece of work and what goes through your mind from start to finish?  

I think of my work as visual poetry or metaphor. For me the process, materials, formal qualities and techniques help to visually articulate the conceptual idea of the work and become the devices to manifest it. A dialogue develops with these components in the studio that informs how the piece develops. I am constantly considering how to subtly push these components to enhance the metaphorical aspects of the piece.  

Is the face of fiber art changing? How so?  

My work continually changes. It is influenced by both the lofty philosophical as well as the mundane. Nature and environmental concerns, personal relationships, what I read, music and generally the dualities of life are a few aspects of life that enter into my work. The body of work is always influenced by inspiration from one of these sources.  Most recently I was asked to respond to a collection of Pre-Columbian Peruvian Textiles shown at the Museum of Art and Archeology on the MU campus. The development of the body of work for this exhibition (Response: Echoes and Reverberations shown at PS Gallery, Columbia, MO) let me  

What first inspired you to become an artist?  

Making art is not a matter of choice; it is a personal need, a response to life. It is the means to know the nature of self, spirit and the world. Making art provides the opportunity to answer philosophical, as well as mundane questions. Technical and conceptual influences range from a background in ceramics and weaving to first-hand experiences from a variety of cultures; five years of my life were spent living in Mexico and I've had the opportunity for extended travel to a variety of Central American, Asian and European countries. 

For me, art is a meditation, a response, a question, but most of all it is a way of life. I regard the process itself as paramount to the outcome. It is the search for the best solution to visually represent an idea that informs my work - the act of pulling sheets of paper, figuring out how thick, how thin a layer of pulp should be, how to form it three-dimensionally, how to articulate a concept, et cetera. All these elements together lead me to new conceptual issues, new technical information, and maintain art making as an integral part of my life.  

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