In today’s artist interview & sneak peek we have a visit In The Studio with Andrea Donnelly. Andrea is a Richmond Virginia fiber artist whose work I was first introduced to in a local shop in Charleston (The Commons) and then at Art Fields a couple years ago. Andrea got in touch with me after reading one of my artist interviews last year and we agreed that I would come for a visit to see her studio in person:) We spent a lovely few hours together and she showed me around both rooms of her studio space and then enjoyed an amazing dinner together in Richmond. I’m so grateful for the artists who invite us to visit their studio! We can learn so much from each of these visits. Andrea is incredibly organized and these photos are not styled so this is typical of what her studio space looks like on an average day.
In The Studio with Andrea Donnelly-Artist Interview & Sneak Peek-Part I
HKPS::When you realized were an artist?
AD::In college. I was a soccer nerd who liked to draw, but never took any art classes. My 3rd year of college at NC State, I realized I wanted to go to art school. I applied to the NCSU College of Design and got in and the rest is history.
HKPS::What materials you work with?
AD::The majority of my work is textile based: painting on and manipulating cloth I weave by hand using threads in natural materials like linen, silk, cotton, and wool. I also draw and paint on paper. I love gouache.
HKPS::Is making art your primary source of income? Do you have a partner who helps to support you?
AD::It is…my practice supports a pretty large studio, but my husband Jordan has a conventional job and he keeps the roof over our heads.
HKPS::How much time do you spend in your studio weekly/daily?
AD::I am in my physical studio 40-50 hours a week, and work outside the studio probably an additional 10-15.
Do you work in solitude/seek out solitude or enjoy company (music, other people etc)?
AD::I need quiet and solitude to work, but I enjoy an occasional hello from a studio mate. I listen to a lot of books while I work, except when I am doing deep thinking work and then I prefer quiet or background noise.
HKPS::Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
AD::My studio is in an unassuming 2-story brick warehouse in the Manchester district of Richmond, VA. I have 2 rooms: a dye lab (see first photo and above) and a larger weaving/work room (two photo’s below). It’s probably about 900 square feet all together. I’ve been in this studio about 2 and a half years now.
HKPS::When you began working in this space did you plan any systems for the overall set up or did you let things evolve organically? How did past studio spaces or systems influence this space?
AD::With some things, like my giant table and my three looms, it was pretty obvious to me where they should go in the space. Other things, like my bookshelves, have moved from their original spots into better places, which I needed to work in the space for a while to understand the best places for those kind of things. I’ve been in a lot of different kind of spaces, and knowing how I work and how much space I need around the looms is the best place for me to start placing things in any space. I do enjoy that tetris puzzle of setting up my space and every now and then take another look and ask if things are really arranged to be most efficient and effective for my needs.
HKPS::Do you use personal objects & memorabilia in your art? Do you collect memento’s, found objects or other ephemera, thing that evokes your childhood or playful nature=sense of humor (ironic, kitschy)? What is their Value to you?
AD::I do collect things that speak to me, often little things from the natural world that I pick up on walks. They often reflect my interest in pattern and structure, and I keep them in sight. I can’t easily articulate their value: I find them beautiful and important and they talk to each other. I keep them near the books I collect, which are important in the same way.
HKPS::Do these collections ever overwhelm you and if so how and when do you curate-edit them?
AD::I am very careful in what I decide to collect, so it has stayed small. I am not afraid to get rid of something if it’s redundant…I was collecting lots of blue birds eggs for a couple springs, but I got rid of all but maybe four of them, and they seem more powerful that way. I don’t like clutter.
HKPS:: Do you have a mantra, muse, mascot or area that you dedicate as an altar? OR-do you have any rituals, superstitions or routines you practice regularly in your studio?
AD::My collection of beautiful objects and books would be my altar area…it’s the one place that’s really just for display rather than work. Huey, my pit bull would be my mascot J. When we come into the studio in the morning, I take off my shoes and slip on my studio Birkenstocks (I weave in socks or bare feet so it makes moving around the studio easier to have these kind of shoes on), I put on my tea pot, and light an incense to start the day.
Next week we’ll be back to share more of Andrea’s tips on Organizing, Storage and her Legacy as an artist. Andrea has a solo show: We’ve Met Before, opening at the NC Art museum in Raleigh tomorrow through January 2018.
Do you have any questions you want me to ask Andrea next week? If so please leave them in the comments below!
*The idea for the In the Studio series began while attending an art retreat where I curiously observed the differences in the creative cycle of order and chaos and what that looks like for different individuals. I’m very interested in sharing how organizing affects the artist’s creative process. Some systems and order are vital to our creative PLAY and learning to find a balance that works to enhance your creativity is what I hope to share with you through these interviews.
Is there a particular artist whose ‘Tool kit’ you would like to see featured? Leave a comment below and let me know!