Jaynie Crimmins Interview

By Jason Clay Lewis | December 26, 2019
In Search of Beauty #5, 2019 shredded MoMA Design Store catalogs, safety envelopes, promotional mail, thread over armature 23” x 23” x 3”D

In Search of Beauty #5, 2019, shredded MoMA Design Store catalogs, safety envelopes, promotional mail, thread over armature, 23” x 23” x 3”D

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in Art Education. My exposure to and education in visual art and art history were in service to becoming an art educator. My creative practice was put aside for about 15 years while teaching art full-time, working towards a Masters degree in Art Education and raising a family. During this time, I only worked on visual journaling. In 2006, I began taking graduate fine art courses and workshops through which I slowly explored materials and methods of creating.

How did you first become interested in art and why you decided to become an artist?

I’m an artist because I have no choice. Making art is like breathing.

My family was not referenced to art at all. Neighbors took me to visit the Metropolitan Museum as a kid. This unlocked something in my brain. The painting that spoke to me on those early visits was Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage. At the time, that work defined for me what art is. It was narrative and expressive. The subject matter - a young woman who dedicated herself to a cause - was very relatable. I always loved to draw and as a child would spend hours in my room drawing imaginary narrative images.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I began working with shredded papers in 2009 as a direct result of the financial crisis, shredding my financial statements and sewing them together. The work has evolved.

Something internally or externally stimulates my curiosity which then leads to a series of pieces that investigates an idea, feeling, memory. Further, my projects [series of pieces] are informed by books, current events, or a personal concern and take shape through my examination of their content. The textural surfaces produced from the techniques employed and the forms that emerge become integral components of each piece.

What other artists have been inspirational to you in your work?

The biggest influence on my work is the artist Ruth Asawa. Her repetitive, craft-like technique and use of one material [looped-wire] to create her beautiful and ethereal suspended sculptures, resonates with my desire to use a limited means of production to create my pieces. Her simple materials and mechanical process produced organic forms. All of her works including drawings, used nature as her model.

jaynie crimmins

In Search of Beauty #7, 2019, shredded Kips Bay Designer Showcase catalog, safety envelopes, promotional mail, thread over armature, 6" x 6" x 2"D

What can you tell us your work is about and a bit about your creative process?

Frank Wilczek's 2015 book, A Beautiful Question, defines beauty in nature through two distinctive features: symmetry - a love of harmony, balance and proportion, and economy - satisfaction in producing an abundance of effects from limited means. My work seeks to create symmetry through economy. Restraint of process challenges my manipulation of materials.

My materials are solicitations, safety envelopes and catalogs that are difficult to recycle because their inks have a high concentration of metallic inks. In addition to shredding the previously mentioned materials, I use thread, various armatures and glue. The shredded mailings are interwoven into the context and content of the work.

My palette is derived from the colors of catalogs, solicitations and patterns of safety envelopes. There is no specific form that defines my work, although there are reoccurring motifs and shapes, particularly botanical, architectural and marine-inspired ideas.

During the process of creation, the direction of the work can change by varying the technique used to build with the shreds. This can be a challenge, yet keeps the work interesting and fresh for me. My process is very laborious and meditative, yet I am also making decisions all along the way. Sometimes those decisions change the direction of the piece. My final artworks continually surprise me.

Tell me about your current installation at the Islamic Arts Festival in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates?

A friend Karen Margolis, recommended my work to the Festival Committee. The committee then invited me to apply. The work exhibited at the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival represents works created over 5 years. My exhibit is entitled In Search of Beauty, the title of my latest completed project. The work relates to Islamic Art in that the patterns are stylized versions of plant forms, architectural details and geometric applications of design. Although my work is small and intimate, each object is an entire universe - their surfaces can feel limitless.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new project, Invasive Species. This work is inspired by my recent month's residency at the I-Park Foundation in East Haddam CT. Gathering natural detritus, I began noticing invasive vines, gypsy moth activity, various fungi. Focusing my collecting on found natural materials during my daily hikes, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of invasive species. Combining milkweed pods with other natural materials and shredded junk mail (also invasive), my inventions are “grafted” together. Only one milkweed pod was procured on my hikes [the season has passed] compelling me to find and purchase the pods on eBay! The forms are feminine.

Where can we see your work and any other projects?

Currently most of my work is installed at the Sharjah Art Museum as part of the Islamic Arts Festival. I have four pieces in the public art collection of Montefiore Hospital, work at Karen Imperial Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA and Mason Fine Arts, Atlanta, GA. Also work and works in process are at my studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

jaynie crimmins

In Search of Beauty #9, 2019, shredded Departures catalog, safety envelopes, promotional mail, thread over armature, 6" x 6" x 2"D

What has been your most amazing moment you have experienced as an artist?

Inclusion in the Islamic Arts Festival is one of the most incredible professional experiences. I also must say that it is extremely gratifying to make my work and continuing to do so celebrates my achievements and defies my rejections.

The Royal List Profile: Jaynie Crimmins