Monday, June 20, 2011

Artist Profile: Leslie Tucker Jenison

cotton broadcloth by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Allow me to introduce you to Leslie Tucker Jenison. I met Leslie for the first time last August, when we were both in Cleveland to film segments for Quilting Arts TV. I was fascinated with her art and her process.

Leslie’s passion is surface design; she makes quilts, art cloth, and mixed media pieces that are a combination of paper and cloth. Although most of her work is on the quilted surface, she has been introducing paper into her work increasingly in the past several years.  
“I love to juxtapose paper with cloth,” says Leslie, “as it adds additional textural interest to the work. It is also a way to create more personalized imagery.”

“Shreds of a Story” (18x40")
cotton broadcloth, paper laminated to cloth, silk, photo transferred to cloth
Leslie shares lots of her surface design techniques on her new DVD with Quilting Arts – officially available on June 28 – is called “DIY Surface Design: Printmaking Made Easy with Everyday Objects.” The price is $19.95, and you can purchase a copy on the Interweave website. A video download is also available for $14.95.

On the DVD, Leslie shows how to create patterns and marks on cloth and paper using everyday objects. Demonstrations include:
  • preparing thickened dyes
  • screen printing
  • batching
  • laminating paper to cloth
  • soy wax printing
  • gelatin monoprinting
  • stamping
cotton broadcloth
Leslie demonstrates each technique using the same group of household objects throughout, so you can see how to achieve different effects using the same object. Here’s a clip from the DVD:

I wanted to get the inside scoop, so I asked Leslie to chat with me about shooting the DVD.

ME: What did you like best about shooting your new DVD?
LESLIE: I loved the entire process of preparing, then filming the DVD workshop. In my former life as a registered nurse, I did a terrific amount of community health education. I have always loved to teach and facilitate workshops. It has been an exciting challenge to bring that skill set into the world of mixed media surface design. As a writer and instructor, one of the toughest bits is to edit information down to an understandable “capsule,” and I love that challenge!

“Night Garden” (42x72")
art cloth: cotton broadcloth and silk organza
Night Garden (detail)
ME: Was there any part of it that was hard?
LESLIE: Organizing supplies and samples for transport to the production facility was a bit scary, because I was afraid I would forget something important. With many surface design supplies one cannot simply run out and pick up this or that at the local store! So, I obsessed a bit about my materials. I enjoyed making specific samples for the workshop, and I packed quite a few quilts because I was encouraged to personalize the set, which was super fun!

“Fire: Urban Inferno/Urban Comfort” (17x22")
Cotton broadcloth
ME: Did anything memorable happen during the shoot?
LESLIE: Thanks to my teaching partner, Jamie Fingal, there is a special set of props in the shelving behind me. The viewer might want to pay attention to the many moods of Barbie from one chapter to the next during the workshop. I'm just sayin’…

ME: What is most interesting or unique about what you cover on the DVD?
LESLIE: As an artist I am interested in the possibilities of everyday items as mark-making tools. This is certainly not unique to me: many surface design artists use found objects to make marks on paper and cloth, as well as create their own unique tools. Silk screens, thermofax screens, and hand-made stamps: these are great ways of creating personalized work. In addition, we as artists can use a variety of objects that are intended for another purpose to create beautiful marks on cloth and paper, and this was the focus of my workshop.

I did not invent this wheel! Chad Alice Hagan, a wonderfully talented artist who specializes in felted constructions, once told me that if you think you have invented a new technique, you probably just haven't done enough research! One of my main themes in the workshop dvd is to demonstrate how the same tool can be used in several ways to create marks. For example:  I use the top and bottom of a plastic tomato container to apply soy wax to create a resist on the surface of cloth and paper, to manipulate paint on a gelatin plate for monoprinting, and as a stamp for paint.

My goal is to invite to viewer to look at objects for their potential as mark-making tools. One does not have to invest a lot of money in printing tools in order to create unique cloth and paper.  These things are a way of building visual depth and texture to cloth and paper.

ME: What you like best about teaching?
LESLIE: I feel honored and humbled to have been asked to develop a workshop DVD. I enjoyed the challenge of creating a visual workshop to share with viewers. Creating unique cloth and paper to use in my work has become an essential step. It has afforded me the ability to embed personal meaning into my quilts and mixed media work, and I am happy to share that with others. Nothing is more thrilling than offering information to a student and watch them get excited or have a big AHA! moment.

I have been very fortunate to learn from some truly wonderful teachers, many of whom I have the honor to count as friends.  It seems to me the more we give generously of our own knowledge, the more we all receive.  Each artist will put their personal mark on the work they make, consciously or not.  We might have similar tools, but it is how we use them that makes the work our own.  My goal as a facilitator is to get others excited about the possibilities and mentor them so they can find their own path.  If I can do that for even one person, I'll be happy. 

“Butterfly Airmail” (6x4")
cotton broadcloth, mixed media,
“Heartland: Scattered Landscape” (detail)
paper laminated to polyester sheer, cotton facial cloths

silk and cotton cloth
“Warehouse 104” (18" x 10" x 8") part of an artist collaboration,
“An Artist Village” that will debut in Tactile Architecture 2011.
Corrugated plastic, facial wash cloths, plastic packaging, grommets, paper laminated to cloth.
This structure can be opened up to fold flat, though it is constructed into one unit.
“Childhood Garden” (27 x 18 ¾")
silk habotai and organza, cotton broadcloth, lutradur 

art paper laminated to polyester sheer

"Nesting" (9 x9")
mixed media on paper
“InVitro #5:  Microscopy” (27 x 50 ½")
cotton broadcloth and silk organza
“Hummers” (10 x 8")
Mixed media page from an art journal. Original watercolor.
silk charmeuse
silk organza and cotton broadcloth with soy wax batik
“Heartland #5: Field Burn” (24 x 12" framed)
bamboo batting, silk organza, cotton facial cloths
“Mail Art” (7 x 5" framed)
mixed media collage
“What Remains” (36x48")
paper laminated to cloth, felt, bamboo batting, silk and cotton broadcloth
“What Remains” (detail)
“Japanese Tea Garden” (49 x 27")
silk charmeuse, silk organza
Leslie co-curates exhibitions of fiber art with Jamie Fingal. Together, they formed Dinner at Eight Artists, which has brought spectacular exhibits to International Quilt Festival in the past few years. The latest, “The Space Between,” will debut at International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California, in July.

I’ll have a post about Jamie and her work in the next day or so.

Find out more about Leslie here:
Leslie’s blog:
Dinner at Eight Artists’ blog: