Today I get to share a fellow SCAD Fibers Alumni studio I visited in early February when I went to Asheville. Selinde Lanier and I both studied Fibers at SCAD in the mid-late 90’s and have managed to stay in touch over the years as we both worked in various industry jobs and eventually both left industry for other personal and professional pursuits. Selinde’s studio is at an incredible facility called Marshall High Studio about 30 min’s outside of Asheville. The building consists of almost 30 classrooms converted to individual artist studios. All I can say is, Envious! But, before visiting her studio I met Selinde at Flow Marshall, the cooperative gallery in town that she helped found in 2010. I visited a lot of craft and art galleries on my recent visit to Asheville and Flow is so wonderfully curated that I’d rank it as one of the best fine craft galleries I’ve ever visited. Take a trip to see for yourself if you get a chance!
Starting this week I’m breaking each Artist Studio interview down into two Parts. So on to Selinde’s Inteview and Studio Sneak Peek Part I.
HKPS::What age did you suspect or know you were an artist?
SL:: I just found a picture that I drew of myself in kindergarten in answer to a prompt “One of the things I can be when I grow up is:” and I wrote “Artist” and then drew a picture of myself with huge hands and a shirtdress that read I Love You on it. I found this picture while I was sifting through old boxes of my art work on a mission from an Artist’s Way exercise and I did not remember making it. It was possibly the biggest gift my little self could have given to my grownup self to validate my doing now what I truly love – visual art. I spent my youth pursuing classical music and then gave that up as too competitive and confining, only later discovering weaving and textile design. So to find that I had once cherished the goal of becoming an artist, specifically a maker with big, powerful hands, was incredibly powerful and a lovely reminder that I have, after all, followed my path.
HKPS::What mediums do you work with and are there specific tools or materials you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them?
SL:: I work primarily with natural fiber yarn in large quantities. I also do a lot of natural dyeing. Since my studio is quite bright and not air conditioned, I face two main storage issues: keeping the naturally-dyed yarn and dyestuff (dried plant material) out of direct light as well as sealed away from insects. The light issue I addressed early on by having lightfast-lined curtains installed, done soon after I moved into my studio because the very direct southern light was also causing a mechanical problem with flooding a light sensor on my dobby loom.
Fortunately the closet that I keep my yarn in is on the opposite side from where the sun primarily shines so I just make sure to always keep the curtains closed on that side of the room. As far as insects go, I seal any valuable yarn in plastic Ziploc bags and plant material in opaque plastic yogurt containers. Leftover dyebaths that aren’t exhausted I keep frozen in a freezer in my studio.
HKPS:: Where do you make your art, how big is your studio and how long have you been in this space?
SL:: My studio is located in the restored Marshall High Studios building in downtown Marshall, NC. It’s the size of a classroom complete with chalkboard at one end opposite built-in closets on the other and a wall of bulletin board opposite four large windows that look down onto a tree-lined half of the French Broad River (half because the building a resides on an island in the middle of the river). I have been there since October of 2008, on the second floor, directly above Rob Pulleyn, owner and renovator of the building, who along with wife Kate Matthews, started FiberArts Magazine 40 years ago. It is truly an honor and inspiration to make fabric in a studio over the editor of the magazine that got me started in this field to begin with.
HKPS::How many projects are you usually working on at once? Is this due to space constraints, creative process, organizing systems or other influences?
SL:: I never seem to have the bandwidth to be working on more than one project at a time, although I have a 24 harness dobby and a 60-inch 4 harness LeClerc that almost always have the end of a warp on them holding the old threading on the chance I can use it for the next project. Maybe this is a holdover from the industrial world I used to work in where you never let your machinery go idle. Or maybe it’s just weaverly wisdom, since threading is so time-consuming. Either way, theoretically I could be switching from loom to loom, weaving several things at a time. I don’t seem to however. I have always been one to finish things that I start before launching something new, preferring to work linearly. We do so much multitasking in our everyday lives now that I actually find this singular concentration therapeutic and even luxurious. That said, I usually have at least two journals and a sketchbook going at one time, places to store the myriad of ideas that pop into my head so that I can access them easily whenever I need to.
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?
SL::Right away, I had shelves built for the closets so that I could finally unpack 15 years of a life in textiles; mainly yarn, books and fabric. I had moved into this studio from a much smaller space, mainly because I had purchased a dobby loom that wouldn’t fit into the space I had. So once I had the shelves built, loom set up and brought in two work benches, I got to work.
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!