By Angela Romeo
How many of us grew up going to an arts and crafts class? The art world splits art and craft into two different worlds. Art is the concept of work that has no viable useful function. Craft is the useful side of what is created.
But these categories fail when one looks at the work of artists such as Jaymie Arquilevich. Using fabric, both new and recycled, Jaymie creates art from a perceived craft. For Jaymie her work is “full of transcendent joy and dark disturbance, forever changing and deepening.” For everyone else, the work is an artistic expression of the unfamiliar cloaked in the familiar.
Always interested in the textiles, Jaymie transitioned from teaching to art in 2013. “I began experimenting with needle and thread in the early ’90’s designing and hand-stitching stuffed animals,” noted Jaymie. “My work has evolved. I construct abstract textile landscape through traditional stitching techniques, machine embroidery, and fabric manipulation.”
“To some fabric may seem like an odd choice to create landscapes. As a child, I watched my grandmother make stuffed animals. My mother sewed clothing for us. I dreamed of being a writer, not a textile artist,” smiled Jaymie. “Once I became a mother, it seemed natural to make dolls and felt toys for my own kids. Now I love working with fabric. Playing with textures and colors energizes me.”
The work, like arts straddling crafts, could easily fall into the Folk-Art Genre popularized by artists such as Elito Circa, Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses), Charley Kinney, Anna Louisa Miller. There is an unexpected beauty that works, such as Jaymie’s bring. The lack of artifice allows Jaymie’s creations to exist as they are. But never mistake simplicity for simple. A closer look at the work reveals, as Jaymie notes, “the desert’s expansive vistas, penetrating stillness, and beautiful decay.”
“My husband and I have a place in Wonder Valley. I spend my time soaking up the views, or getting inspiration on hikes in the national park. The colors, shapes, and light get distilled in my memory and emerge as the simple forms present in my work. Though an initial sketch might contain more detail, the final landscape is almost always pared down. I find this process really satisfying: how much can I let go of? How little is needed to convey the essence of the desert?”
“When people view my landscapes in person, especially in galleries or public venues, they’re more likely to categorize it as ‘art.’ However, without that environmental context or a sample of my work in hand, I often struggle to describe what I do or where it falls on the ‘art and craft’ spectrum. I might get a polite nod or quizzical look when I say, ‘I make fabric landscapes.’ The common response is, ‘So you’re a quilter?’”
“I look at my work and think there’s one style that’s representative, not of me, but of who I’d like to be. My mind is generally dark, cluttered, and full of chatter, but the simple abstract works I create are the opposite of that: light, easy, and restful. There’s often a point in their making when I feel like I’ve gotten out of my own way, that the work is coming through me. These particular landscapes bring me great peace.”
“There are textile and fiber artists out there doing wonderful work that blurs the lines between what we typically define as ‘art’ and ‘craft.’ I might be walking that blurred line, too.”
Andy Warhol famously said that Art is whatever you can get away with – clearly Jaymie has taken that quote to a new height.
For more information about Jaymie Arquilevich visit Instagram: @jaymiearquilevich
Reminder -The 16th annual Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tour is October 14th -15th and October 21st -22nd. For more information visit www.hwy62arttours.org