Welcome to the ongoing series of artist interviews by our own Ginny Brennan. This week we are pleased to introduce Fabric Artist Helen Parsons. We are sure you will enjoy not only her artwork but her history as well.
Helen resides in Spokane, Washington and is a talented Fiber Artist who obscures the traditional boundaries of fiber. Her pieces embody and symbolize unity; both through methods of construction and the place fabric has in our daily lives. You may view and purchase her art through her website – www.coppertreearts.com Helen is a member of River Ridge Association of Fine Arts – www.spokanerrafa.com – Surface Design Organization – www.surfacedesign.org – The Northwest Museum of Art and Culture – www.northwestmuseum.org
Ginny: What is your background as an artist and how does this background inform and motivate your practice.
Helen: I am a “maker” as opposed to an artist. I am the oldest of six children. Our father was in the Navy and we lived extremely modest. I learned quickly to use my imagination to identify with the outside world.
Ginny: How did you become a textile artist?
Helen: I wanted to fit in with those around me. I started sewing by age five and by age eight I had surpassed by Mother’s sewing skills. I started out of necessity and became extremely knowledgeable with textiles. I began to understand how to manipulate fabrics, through sewing, washing and exploring all the possibilities.
Ginny: Describe your creative process. What’s a typical day like for you?
Helen: I basically gather information from everywhere. Anything can contribute to my creative process, a costume in a play, textures that I see. A textile can itself uncover what it is to become revealing something within itself.
Ginny: What does design mean to you?
Helen: It is the aesthetics, wanting to find something of yourself within it.
Ginny: What are your favorite projects you have completed?
Helen: Working on an Earth Day competition. The challenge was to use recycled products. The challenge wasn’t meant to be wearable, however I didn’t realize that and worked on my project creating a 50’s inspired cocktail dress with used dryer sheets, plastic shopping bags.
Ginny: There are so many choices in textile art these days, how do you decide what to try?
Helen: I like to try everything and bring it back to what my work is.
Ginny: How many times do you revisit or edit artwork before releasing a final version?
Helen: I usually get pretty far down the road with it and take time to have a cup of tea with my project and it will help me decide.
Ginny: The term “green living” can be so generic, what does it mean to you?
Helen: I’m dedicated to preserving the earth.
Ginny: What inspires you?
Helen: Everything in the world, politics, nature, religions, people. Constant change is inspiring.
Ginny: The one thing you can’t live without?
Helen: Access to others, other art, museums, artists, books.
Ginny: What’s on your bucket list?
Helen: The Smithsonian Institute. I’m so interested in how history plays a role in a person’s life.
Ginny: Favorite quote or personal mantra you live by?
Helen: Robert Frost’s – “Miles to go before I sleep”.
Ginny: What’s the coolest thing you could imagine seeing covered in your artwork?
Helen: Fiber art being more heavily recognized as a fine art medium.
Ginny: If you could only create art with one tool, what would it be?
Helen: Still textile and fiber art.
Ginny: Who influences your work?
Helen: There isn’t any one person, however, Judy Chicago, feminist artist who has brought recognition to female artist in general and has helped develop textile art recognition. Alabama Chanin has also been an inspiration to me with her philosophy of handcrafted quality garments created by local artisans.
Ginny: What’s next?
Helen: More commercial art installation work and three-dimensional sculpture or hanging tapestries in large scale.
Look for more artist interviews from Ginny in the near future. www.flootie.com is always excited to share the wonderful talent we encounter as we meet new artist friends.