Meet the Artist: Juanita Girardin, 2014 Best of Show winner

Juanita Girardin of New Mexico was awarded the 2014 Best of Show prize for her wearable fiber art, the first time the award was presented to an artist in the category.

How did you first get interested in working in your medium?

Making cloth and clothing has been a part of my life since childhood. I grew up in a textile town in New England at a time when sewing your own clothes was commonplace and still taught in junior high school. Many of the women in my immediate and extended family sewed, knitted or crocheted. In the late 60s/early 70s my first textile art was my patched jeans. In high school I would make clothing for my friends. My college studies in textile design seemed like a natural step. My medium has been a continuous presence in my life.

What is special about the medium you work in? How does it inform the work you create?

Textiles, cloth, and clothing are ubiquitous; they are the ever-present material of our lives. We are enveloped in cloth from sunrise to sunset. To create handmade, expressive, unique clothing via design of form and surface, without moving into the realm of costume is infinitely challenging to me. Textiles, fiber, cloth are wonderfully malleable, forgiving and adaptable. The material leads the process and all the subsequent manipulations and explorations of surface and form. What do you love about your workspace or studio? My studio is perfectly imperfect.

What was the inspiration for a recent piece?

I'm generally influenced by art, interior design, fashion and environmental evolution. Currently, I’m interested in the drawn line so I've been looking at artists that use lines in their work, most recently the painter Max Cole. I have been focused for sometime on the stitched line, taking away, reductive shapes, and trying to say more with less.

Can you share a personal highlight of the 2014 PMA Craft Show — other than winning the award, of course!

The high point of any show for me is seeing the inspiring work of my colleagues in various mediums and meeting with my collectors. Receiving the Best of Show award, the first time it was given to textiles at the PMA show, was momentous for me of course and it led to many interesting conversations with visitors to the show. Craft show visitors are educated and informed with incredibly diverse backgrounds and a strong interest in design and material. They often have vibrant personalities and initiate conversations that lead me to new ways of seeing and thinking.

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