Artists & Spaces: Sally Garner, Fiber & Textile artist in Asheville, North Carolina

An artists’ workspace tends to be a place of solace and can be a place to getaway from it all to find focus. Having gone to school for art, many of my friends are artists. I’ve been wanting to do a project like this one for a while with them to start, but I always felt a sense of intrusion so I’ve ended up shying away from it - until now.

There seems to be some kind of secrecy surrounding where and how individuals make their art, whatever it may be. I realized it would be a fantastic opportunity to not only get to know my friends and community members better, but a chance to shed some light on the topic. It’s a curious thing the environments we create for ourselves to feel comfortable enough to work, make things, be our most creative selves. Most times it’s not a fancy studio you see creatives in; it’s sprawled out on their kitchen table, cramped in a closet, or, like in this case, in a sectioned off part of their living room. I hope to catalog artists and creatives of all kinds, showcasing their personal workspaces they’ve made for themselves and showing how one doesn’t need a fancy studio space or to quit your day job to be an artist.

My first portrait session for the series is with my friend, Sally. When I first met her she was studying to be a photographer - I actually really admired her work and hoped we would one day share a classroom together. Soon though, she switched gears and found her true calling in sculpture and textiles. Prior to visiting, I had no idea what I was walking into. I knew she worked from home, but I didn’t know the situation. Did she have an extra room? Did she just have a desk somewhere? I was amazed to find that her and her partner (who is also an artist) had sectioned off parts of their living room to curtain off their own little studio spaces. Scattered on shelves and hung on the walls were all mediums of art meant to inspire and create good juju. Sally informed me that many of the drawings and paintings were either older pieces of theirs from school or pieces friends gave them over the years. It was a sensory playground filled with color and texture. Comfy and full of art.
 


Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your craft.
A: I am a native North Carolinian. I've lived in Asheville for about six and a half years and graduated from UNCA in 2013 with a BFA in studio art-specifically sculpture. I mostly work with fiber, though I have a photography background. My work ranges from decorative woven wall hangings and crocheted stone necklaces, to abstract, crocheted installations using alternative fiber materials, such as VHS tape. I take traditional fiber art techniques and explore them in a contemporary setting.

Q: What drew you to fiber and textile art?
A: Art has been a part of my life's plan since Kindergarten, when I used to tell everyone I was going to draw dolphins when I grew up. Since then, my art form has always been evolving and incorporating many different mediums, such as drawing and photography. I have always had a fascination with fiber, though. When I was younger, shopping at clothing stores with my mother, I would get distracted by feeling everything instead of looking for clothes I actually wanted to wear. Ten minutes later and I still wouldn't have found anything to try on because I was touching all the shirts and dresses, really getting lost in the textures. I have since then come full circle, and started to use fibers in my work after I learned how to knit and crochet. It is important to work with materials you love, and I am passionate about yarns and different fibers in all sorts of forms.

Asheville Folk Interview with Sally Garner, Fiber & Textile Artist in Asheville, North Carolina. Photos by Shonie Joy Kuykendall. See more artist interviews at ashevillefolk.com

Q: How does the space you work in influence your work?
A: I currently work out of my home because it's the easiest for my artwork at the moment. I love having that closeness to my art because I'm always nearby my "studio" when I have ideas late at night or at odd hours when I'm just relaxing at home. The only downside is that my "studio" is literally a 5 ft x 5 ft corner of my living room, which is a bit on the small side.

Q: What are your thoughts on the relationship between artists, their workplace, and the art they create?
A: I've got a Buddha Board for meditative creation, mood lighting, and a jade plant in my work space. It makes me happy and helps me to feel creative. To be the most productive and inspired, most artists like myself need environments that make them feel comfortable and happy. That environment can be different for everyone. Some might need a more solitary space in order to get really focused on their work, while others enjoy creating a community space like studios that are shared by three or more artists. Everyone has specific needs, and I think it's important to know what you need before creating a place to work in, that way you can be as productive as possible.

Asheville Folk Interview with Sally Garner, Fiber & Textile Artist in Asheville, North Carolina. Photos by Shonie Joy Kuykendall. See more artist interviews at ashevillefolk.com

Q: What does your process look like starting from your initial idea to the creation of the real piece?
A: When I start a weaving I first decide on colors and fibers. I go for a good color scheme first and then pick out a variety of fibers, thick and thin, soft and harsh, etc, to give the piece depth. Then I decide on the size and general design idea and start by warping my loom. After that, it's a matter of creating an evolving piece until I'm happy with it. I have tried working with designs that are drawn out beforehand and made exactly to match, but I haven't particularly loved that process. I like to explore how the colors and threads react together, and I get much more out of a weaving when I let it evolve organically while I make it. My most successful pieces have not been worked top to bottom or the other way around, but alternatively starting from the middle and pushing things around. It seems a little weird to do that on a loom, but I'm often rearranging my composition as I go. My jewelry and installation work usually follows
the same path, starting with material (color and texture) choices, because that's what makes me excited
about creating. Then, I design and let the piece evolve as I make it.

Q: How would you like your art to affect others?
A: My work is something I do to relax and have fun. It's meant to be decorative, so I want people to love my work enough to put it in their space or wear it. Our homes and wardrobes are a reflection of our aesthetics, and if one of my pieces makes someone want to adorn their place or self with it, then I've just shared a connection with someone else. We can get so much out of surrounding ourselves with beautiful things, so all I want is for my work to make others feel good, just like I do.

Q: Where can we see more of your work and stay connected with you?
A: My website is the best place to see my work and I also sell some of my work on Etsy. If you want to see my installation work in person, I have a solo show at the Satellite Gallery, 55 Broadway St, in Downtown Asheville, during the month of June, starting with an opening on June 3rd.

sallycgarner.com
sallycgarner.etsy.com
Instagram @sallycgarner
 


If you are a artist or know of an artist who would like to get involved with our "Artists & Spaces" project, email Shonie at shoniejoy@gmail.com to learn more.

Asheville Folk Contributor: Shonie Joy


Shonie Joy works as a pottery assistant and freelance photographer. She enjoys making people laugh and general silliness as well as listening to a good audio book, coffee dates, and daydreaming about future road trips.

You can find her here:
joylightphoto.com
Instagram @shoniejoy