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Sunroom Q&A: Jess Feury

Meet Jess Feury, textile artist and designer whose capsule of one-of-a-kind silk patchwork jackets & hand-woven blouses are our latest obsession. Read on to discover more about Jess’s perspective on the power of working with your hands; learning through making; and the inspirations that guide her.


Can you share more about your development as an artist?
I studied art education in undergrad with a minor in painting and printmaking. I would definitely point back to my childhood for my initial interest in art, which was influenced by my mom who was and is a highly creative person.

My expression through fashion and art projects as young as I can remember was influenced by the culture around me (Cindy Lauper and Madonna!) and visits into New York City with my Mom who owned a clothing boutique in North Jersey. A memory that stands out is visiting the Betsey Johnson showroom, Jungle themed in the late 80's with women on roller skates rolling the clothing racks out for the buying appointment. It was in showrooms and the packed aisles of the Javitz center trade shows where my love of fashion really took form. 
Can you share more about the traditions that most inform your art? 
As long as I can remember, I have been fashioning costumes out of whatever materials I could find and painting my face with wild shapes and colors like in the Vogue magazines lying around my house, purchased by my Mom.

This led to college where I started working in the first of a string of vintage clothing shops and my devotion to vintage garments led me to flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores, in search of something one of a kind.

My work as an artist harkens back to these days where i believe my eye started to take shape and has always been influenced by color, texture, shape, and the tactile aspect of fabric. I had no idea back then that I would end up working as a textile artist. 

Between college and now, I attended graduate school for art therapy and worked as an art therapist for almost 2 decades while always continuing my own art, owning a vintage shop / art gallery , and making and selling clothing and art.
I began weaving in California in 2010. I took a 2 hour workshop and was instantly hooked. I ordered a loom, quit my art therapy job, and flew to New York 2 months later with a small collection of my handwoven clothing to show during fashion week. Somehow, I drummed up some appointments with some influential shops, such as Oroboro in New York, and my career in the textile arts took off.
My earliest collections were heavily influenced by the Northern California landscape where I lived at the time as well and antique textiles. Since then, my work has continued to develop and living now in the South, I have become more and more interested in the roots of folk art and how some of these techniques can be integrated into my work. Notably embroidery, quilting, and the idea of editing an idea down to as essence of simplicity.
I love primitive antiques and how the hand of the maker is seen and felt in an old piece of wood or in the backside of an old quilt. I always want my hand to be seen in the work I create. I eschew modern machinery and how it has altered the creative process. Give me old tattered gorgeous 1920's robe to throw on any day over a fast fashion item that has a thousand replicas out in the world. 

How are you understanding yourself creatively at this stage in your life? 
At this stage and age of my life I understand my process and one that is to be trusted. For a while I fought against the notion that I don't really have an artist statement or inspirations that are easy to point work has mostly felt like it comes from a place deep inside and by necessity. I am sure this is metabolized alongside beautiful things I see in nature and the physical world, yet creating is like a compulsion for me. It is a way for me to use my hands to make something intangible, tangible. The more I think on this, the further it seems to take me from my process so I have decided to just sit in the knowing that I don't exactly know where this work comes from!
I am looking forward this year to slowing down slightly and developing techniques I am drawn too. I would like to buy a larger floor loom and work on larger scale home and design projects. I have done pillows for the Proper Hotels (Kelly Wearstler) and art pieces for Sea Ranch Lodge and want to move more into larger scale commissions.

Rapid Fire:
I start my mornings with... coffee and taking my dog Ozzy to the dog park
Book I recommend often: The Art of Fabric 
An unexpected source of personal inspiration: My son Zephyr's incredible drawings 
A favorite escape: Anyplace that has an ocean and antique stores!
Always in my bag: I don't carry a bag. Just my wallet and phone!
Playlist on repeat: right now is old country 
Beverage of choice: tequila soda with a splash of bitters!
Traveling to... Mexico City in 2 weeks