Thursday, August 21, 2014

Questions for Curators: Leslie Tucker Jenison

Leslie Tucker Jenison

1.    What was your dream job when you were a kid?  Did you ever think you would be a fiber artist?  -My dream job was to be a registered nurse.  I practiced nursing for many years, always in some aspect of women’s health & community health education for women and families.  My avocation was to be an artist.  I was an enthusiastic painter as a young girl and I was fortunate to return to painting, then quilt making and surface design.  How lucky can one woman be?!

      What are your goals for yourself as an artist? To make work that is meaningful to myself, to always push myself artistically, to work with intent.

      What is your aesthetic in art? Layered, abstracted.

     How do you balance it all!  How does anyone?  We are “all bozos on the same bus” when it comes to figuring out that balance.  It helps that we are both “empty nesters” who have supportive husbands.  My family responsibilities changed after the deaths of my mother and sister in 2001 and 2003.  Between our move to Texas in 1997 and 2003 I spent nearly half my time in Kansas.  Now, each day when I walk down the hallway to my studio I thank my mother for giving me back the gift of time to make art.  I know she would like that.

What keeps quilting fresh, for you?  I continually try to push myself out of my own comfort zone.  That keeps it somewhat scary and fresh for me!  Also, I have returned to some of my earlier roots in making a few useful quilts and doing more hand-stitching.  Sometimes, what is old is new again.

What grabs you first, color or composition? -Ah, this is a tough question but I will go with color.  That said, if the composition isn’t working the color loses its “flair”.

 When did you start quilting?  I started quilting in my mid-20s (late 70's).  Although I grew up observing my paternal grandmother making quilts I was not interested-enough at the time to learn from her.  I was inspired, then mentored, by a fellow nurse in the Labor and Delivery unit I worked in.  Those early years were not all that productive, between working a full and part-time job and raising babies..

      When do you do your best work – under a deadline with pressure, or relaxed and no deadline?  I tend to have both of these going….I need to ruminate about the method of interpreting my idea.  Then, I wait until I’m backed into a corner and seem to perform best under a bit of pressure.  I can’t tell you how much I wish this were not my method.

     Do you ever totally abandon a project and if so, at what point do you know it’s a lost cause?   I will “walk away” from a project, sometimes for months.   Sometimes it stares at me from the design wall and finally I can figure out where to go next.  There have been many pieces that have been cut into smaller parts, sometimes painted over, because they just didn’t work.  You have to know when to walk away.

      Where do you see dinner@8 in 5 to 7 years?  Goals?  Dreams?  I really don’t know!  I think Jamie and I are both committed to continuing as long as there are artists willing to submit work for consideration.  We have some good years ahead, in my opinion!

         How did your collaboration come into being?  Jamie and I had both curated shows in the past.  She approached me to co-curate an online exhibition, then asked if I would be willing to co-curate Edges with her.  We decided it was a great collaboration and we really have fun together.  We are so crazy when we travel together!  After we arranged a couple of artist-dinners for the entrants and we tend to eat at 8 pm…the rest is history.

1.    What do you enjoy most about putting this exhibit together each year?  I believe it challenges us to see the work for its own merit as well as whether it will work in the collective body  of the exhibit.  Often, we disagree and then we are required to “justify” our position to the other!  I think this is good for both of us!

Bonus Question-- 
1    What has been the best part of the press and awards tour for Tim's Vermeer?  Thank you for asking!  For me, the best part of this adventure, hands-down, has been all the amazing and interesting people we have had the pleasure of meeting.  It seems that so many people have been inspired by Tim’s project.  At this time last year the 5 Jenisons were sitting in a small theater in Telluride holding hands nervously as the film premiered.  We couldn’t have imagined how people were going to respond to it.

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