Interview with Toronto-based weaver Jen Arron

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Jen Arron is a long time friend of The Wilk! She introduced The Wilky Way's co-founders Jaime and Aaron and it's been a serious blast off ever since! 

Jen recently shifted her creative focus from photography to weaving and we jumped at the chance to commission her for a large scale piece which now happily lives in the third bedroom at The Wilk. 

We took this opportunity to ask Jen as few questions about her art & process:

You have been a photographer for many years. How did you shift gears and start on this incredible weaving journey?

I was ready to shift gears and reconnect with my artist self for a long time before I found weaving. About 2 years ago, I spontaneously signed up for a beginner’s weaving class and fell head over heels in love with the whole process almost immediately. I felt like I could really express myself through weaving, which contrasted the constraints I felt creatively in my photography career. 

I joined an artist collective, got a studio space and decided to exhibit my work in Toronto’s Contact Photography Festival. But instead of showing straight photography, I made a studio-inspired installation of pieces that were all woven with photographs I transferred to fabric and then ripped up and weaved together. It was my public declaration that I’d stepped over the threshold from photography to fiber art. The show, entitled WEAVE ME, was embraced with a lot of love and further inspiration. Since then I’ve been working steadily on commissioned pieces – like this one for the Wilk!

Who are your inspirations and influences?

I’m really inspired by natural & hand-painted fibers. I also love the challenge of incorporating layers of personal meaning into my pieces.

Female artists who are truly devoted to their work and artistic practice influence me. Weavers like Meghan Shimek, Natalie Novak, Sarah Neubert, and Maryanne Moodie have had a huge impact on my weaving practice. I was lucky enough to meet and learn from these women (and so many more incredible fiber artists) a few months ago at The Weaving Kind Modern Weavers Retreat in Boulder CO. It was such a gift to spend actual quality time with artists I had been crushing on in Instagram since I found weaving. The retreat was where I found the confidence to profess that I am a weaver. I AM A WEAVER! Learning from these talented and exceptionally cool women was a dream come true. The whole experience helped me envision my own artistic life with fiber art at the helm.

What was the process like weaving this piece for The Wilk? 

It was a real labour of love making this piece for The Wilk. Everyday I would arrive at my handmade loom. I thought a lot about how I’d want to feel looking up at this piece laying in the bed it was made to hang above. This piece is about the freedom to daydream. My intention was to create rhythmic textures you can get lost in, with nothing to do and nowhere to be.

What materials did you use in the piece for The Wilk?

The majority of the fibers used here are raw cotton, wool, and recycled sari silk. The remnants of silk are literally sewn together every few feet to create a long piece to weave with. I love this idea of repurposing material to then weave a new object from.

What do you love most about weaving?

I have to pick just one thing?! Definitely the meditative state I experience when I’m in front of the loom. Weaving allows me to get lost in thought, which I often find hard to do in this technological world. 

What's next for you creatively?

I see my weaving practice expanding and deepening intensely from here on out. My goal is to continue to grow with every piece I make. Whether it’s a commission or a personal body of work, I am evolving as an artist all the time. In the years to come, I hope to look back on this time as the very beginning of a wildly successful artistic weaving practice.

 

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Jaime Kowal