Mari-Lou Rowley – The landscape and the horizon are such dominant features of the prairies and in your other work, such as Calendar Pages you take a more traditional/horizonal approach to landscape. Yet Leaf Statements are very different as we the landscape viewed from above. These foilage “maps” you also remind us that there are trees and even people in this place.
Jaynie Himsl - The different series that I do, such as the leaf statement, are my way of expressing creatively what I see visually. At first the series was kind of making fun of rural Saskatchewan and then the work morphed into my concern for the environment.
The series started when saw a leaf on the sidewalk and picked it up, then I saw a map in the leaf and the work progressed from there. The map is a metaphor for the earth and while the early part of the series was less serious, the design really expresses my concern for the prairie environment.
MLR – Can you discuss how the idea came about? What about the images of villages, cottages that dot most of these pieces?
JH – I work hard at not being so literal but it’s often literal things that morph into a tangent.
MLR – I can see the playfulness in the villages and cottages that dot most of the pieces; I see vibrance but also darkness. Which you just talked about. I didn’t necessarily get the environmental concern. My note on your work for the magazine states, “Jaynie Himsl’s textile art also speaks of family, place and identity while evoking feelings of nostalgia, foreboding, and hope.” Does this ring true with you?
JH – Yes, I would agree with that.
MLR - And the foreboding was really interesting because I saw it in the dark background, and also in the piece Cottonwood Delta blues, that was a very sad piece for me.
JH – Yes, but I try not to take myself too seriously. I want my work to be approachable, so there’s a little bit of a lightness to it, while also expressing my concerns.
MLR – What drew you to working with textiles? Can you talk about your process?
JH – I’ve always loved sewing. That’s my first love. I had no idea you could combine interest in art with sewing until I’d seen another SK fibre artist’s work. Martha Cole’s work was in our local gallery and a light bulb went off. Then I knew what I wanted to do¾and that was the start of it.
ML – Well, I just love the image for the cover and it’s perfect for our fall issue, too.
JH – It’s one of those pieces where I was starting work, and I went to choose the fabric for the background, and it was the first piece that I took out. I just said Wow, this is it!
ML – Was it the first piece in the series.
JH – I can’t remember. I’d have to look that up.
MLR – Let’s talk about the role of intuition? I think it’s important in any artistic process. Could you speak to that in your work.
JH – I’ve taken classes to learn the fundamentals, but I do my best work when I don’t think¾just use immediate reactions. If I like it, I keep it. If not, even though I don’t necessarily know what’s wrong, I move on and try something different.
MLR – Yes, it’s kind of the same with poetry, I have to say. Tell me about some of the shows you were most excited to be included in.
JH – The first time I got into a show was with the Studio Art Quilt Associates exhibition (SAQA), an international group of fibre artists. I had a piece selected for one of their exhibitions and it was a really big confirmation for me that my work was good enough. Also, when I had my first piece selected for a national quilt show in Canada, again it’s more quilt-centred that art-centred but it was a validation that my work is good enough.
MLR – It’s fascinating to me. Both my grandmothers quilted. I have one wedding ring quilt and one a Texas Star, so very traditional patterns. But your work really does transform quilting into an artform.
Is there anything else that you’d like to tell me about your work, what you do, what you are looking forward to.
JH -- I’m just enjoying the journey. I didn’t know I had artistic ability until ten years ago when I started on this venture. I enjoy the challenge of continuing to improve and putting my work out there. It’s a thrill!
MLR – And I think this is a perfect ending. Thank you so much.