Spotlight: Jacquie Gering, Modern Art Quilter
Jacquie Gering begins each quilt with an idea, but lets inspiration lead throughout her process, sometimes taking the work on unexpected, but welcome, turns. Known for her use of clean, graphic lines, Jacquie continues to seek growth as a quilter.
How long have you been quilting? How did you get started?
I started quilting in 2009 a little bit by accident. Quitting my job as an educational consultant coincided with a visit to the Gee’s Bend exhibit and I was simply mesmerized and intrigued by those quilts. That led me to research more about quilting and I stumbled on to modern quilts.
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My aesthetic is modern, my home, my taste in décor lives in that wheelhouse so I investigated further and started making. I found that the sewing skills that I was taught as a kid (that I detested using) had an actual purpose and I put them to work learning to quilt. Over the years, I thrived in the creativity that quilting allowed me to explore, in the process found my voice and I continue to grow and evolve as a quilter.
Do you have a mentor?
I’m pretty much a loner, so I love to work in quiet by myself. It’s difficult for me to learn in a group setting.
I met a wonderful woman, Wanda, online. I’m not sure why we connected, because our styles were totally different and we had little in common except maybe our passion for teaching and learning. We never met in person, but we talked often over the phone and Wanda taught me lots of things through email and in our conversations.
When we first connected, she had been quilting longer than I had been alive. She knew everything and often laughed with me at the things I didn’t know. Wanda taught me a lot, but probably most importantly she chastised me for judging myself and my work too harshly. She would always tell me “get my f*%^&ing nose out of my quilt. It’s supposed to be fun.”
Wanda taught me to quilt for the joy it brings me. I miss her, but I always have her talking in my ear as I work. That being said, there are so many quilters that have helped me in my journey; quilters I have admired, friends that have supported me, and a community that for the most part rallies around each other and lifts each other up.
How do you define a “Modern Quilt”? What is it about them that appeals to you?
I don’t. So I leave that to other people who are interested in that kind of thing. I don’t make to someone else’s standards or ideas.
I make what appeals to me and fits the aesthetic that I am trying to achieve in my work. So I love simplicity, hard edges, clean lines, and I want my work to have graphic impact. My style and work continue to evolve and change as I grow as an artist.
What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your books, Walking Foot Quilting and Quilting Modern?
Learn things and know that you need to know more. Have fun and know that you can design, make and quilt your own quilts. Lastly, that perfection is the enemy of creativity and joy.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
I moved my studio back into my home for financial reasons. I moved into the master bedroom to get the biggest space I could in the house. I’ve had all sorts of spaces to create in, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
My studio is neat and tidy at the beginning and the end of the day. But in the midst of creating all bets are off. I love a colorful, inspiring space that supports the way I work and I try to make mine fit that bill.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
My design wall is the most important tool in my studio. It’s where I do all my best work. The design wall is the place where I can see what is happening with my work. I can see color, value, shape, analyze design ideas, etc. I have trouble working without it.
What is your favorite lesser-known tool for your trade? Have you taken something designed for another use and repurposed it for your studio?
I tend to like tools designed for carpenters since my dad was a woodworker; those tools are familiar to me. I use a carpenter’s compass, square, laser level and wallpaper rulers often in my work.
I also love craft foam for designing. It’s a child’s art material, but it’s so great for design play. It’s inexpensive, easy to cut and it engages my hands and my brain in the design process much more effectively that any computer program could.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? What kind?
Silence is best for me, but if I have anything it’s music playing. I typically play music my son has written. Dance and electronic music are great to quilt to because of the awesome beats.
Are you a “finisher”? How many UFOs do you think you have?
Depends on what you mean by finished. Finished for me doesn’t mean the last stitch on the binding. Finished means I’ve learned what I can from that piece. I typically start lots of things, but only some make it to the true finished stage. I play, explore, experiment, learn and move on. Product is not the be all and end all in my studio.
When you travel, do you stitch on planes and in waiting areas? What is in your creative travel kit?
I don’t sew when I travel. I travel with about 150 pounds of luggage already, so taking things to sew doesn’t work for me. Also, I don’t work well where I don’t feel comfortable. I do carry a sketchbook and a pencil and my laptop. I use both to play with design while I travel.
What inspires you? Are there recurring themes in your work?
Everything and yes. It’s hard to explain inspiration, but the key for me is to open your eyes and look more and close your mouth and listen more.
I take so much of what is around me, what I see, feel, hear and experience and put it into my work. Right now I’m in the middle of making a series of work called Building a Life that honors my dad. I am using woodworking tools in the designs to represent the principles that my dad taught me and my three brothers. I’m also working on a series based on the concept of hypocrisy.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
I guess that’s a question for other people. Folks tell me that they can tell when it’s my work. I just know what I like and I put that into my work. I don’t care what’s in or what other people are doing or what the trend is right now.
If you could interview a creative person (past or present), who would that person be? What is it about that person that intrigues you?
Oooh, now that would be fun. I’d want to get into the brain of Frank Stella and ask him a few questions. Then Josef Albers and Kumi Sugai would be fun to have over for dinner. Faith Ringgold would be a wealth of interesting conversation. I admire these artists’ work and I’d like to know them as people. There are so many more I could add to this list.
When you have time to create for yourself, what kinds of projects do you make?
I always try to create for myself. When I’m creating outside of what pleases me it’s always a struggle and never satisfying or enjoyable. So I’ve learned that I can’t fit what other people want me to be. I have to make what I want to make and then I’m usually creating good work.
When you begin to create, do you visualize the finished piece? Or does the work evolve?
I think starting with the end in mind inhibits creativity. So I start with an idea or a concept and let it go from there.
What part of quilting do you enjoy most? Why?
I love the design part the best. It’s the most creative and the most difficult all at the same time. I love the struggle, the frustration, the joy.
If you were no longer able to quilt, how else would you express your creativity?
I love to create in my home with furniture, textiles, and art. It’s fun to rearrange furniture. Then I do the same in the garden with flowers and trees. I’d love to explore other mediums like screen printing, and painting, etc, etc.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
I make my living by teaching and talking about quilting though I am working to get off of the travel treadmill that I’ve been on the for the last seven years.
I am taking a sabbatical in 2020 so that I can focus on new work and I am primarily hosting events in Kansas City. So I will begin taking contracts for 2021 but the goal is to have folks come to Kansas City to learn from me. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire and watch my blog www.tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.com or my instagram @jacquietps for announcements of Kansas City events.
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