Q+A with Fiber Artist Jamie Lynn Williams

Jamie Lynn Williams is an Indianapolis-based fiber artist with a studio in the Circle City Industrial Complex. She recently began working as the art instructor with the Arc of Boone County. In 2019 she will be featured in exhibitions at Saks Fifth Avenue in Indianapolis and the 411, a project of the Arts & Entertainment District that is managed by the Columbus Area Arts Council in Columbus, Indiana. Her studio is open every First Friday.

Paula Katz: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? How did you end up working as an artist?
Jamie Lynn Williams: I attended Smith College where I studied art and psychology. I was studying to be an art therapist but towards the end of my senior year I really felt that I needed to be in the studio and focus on myself. I’ve always been drawn to fiber arts since needleworking is a tradition in my family going back four generations. Finding a way to incorporate that into my art practice, I’ve just been moving forward with that ever since.

PK: Tell me about your love of psychology and how you found that passion? How is this incorporated into your art practice?
JLW: I personally experienced a lot of trauma in my life and was really drawn toward finding answers for myself and also wanting to help other people. I have this sense of empathy for others and really feel passionate about incorporating that into my artwork. My artwork and practice are a means for healing for myself and for others. I hope that others can relate to my works emotionally and I think that’s why my aesthetic is so abstract.

PK: How do you think viewers connect with your work?
JLW: I think especially in this region there is an instant recognition that ‘oh, this isn’t painting, this is fiber, this is thread,’ and people are kind of shocked or surprised by that. What I love the most about presenting artwork in this way is having people tell me their personal stories about the types of needlework they or a family member do or have done. This medium harkens back to things that are comfortable and familiar, making it soothing and nurturing. I think that’s something that people also respond to in my work.

PK: Color is such an important part of your work can you speak about that?
JLW:  Colors have different meanings for us individually and culturally and we respond to them as well on an emotional level. There are lots of artists who work in more neutral palettes that bring out the ethereal elements of materials, and I think that is beautiful too, but I am just so drawn to color, and it is definitely a key element of my practice.

PK: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of making your work?
JLW: Time. These works take a long time. My larger format pieces can take anywhere from 60 to 100 hours to make. Trying to put this work out within a given period of time and having deadlines is really challenging. This work is meant to be handmade, it’s meant to be thoughtful and really present and that requires a lot of time.

PK: You just moved back to Indiana about a year ago, what are your thoughts on the Indianapolis art scene?
JLW: One of the things I love is the collaborative effort and energy. Everyone is willing to share contacts and information. There is a wealth of culture and opportunity and there are so many artists doing lots of different things. However, sometimes it feels like the arts community really puts itself down and many artists need to move past self-imposed restrictions. For example, I see how a lot how artists price their works really low. There is a false belief that collectors will only buy work if it is cheap or small.

PK: Can you share some info on your new job and how that incorporates into your art practice?
JLW: I just started working at the Arc of Boone County as their art instructor, which entails me giving art instruction to adults with disabilities and also trying to market their products to the community. I’m really looking forward to it since this opportunity allows me to bring both sides of myself together in a way that will nourish my practice.

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