Constructing Solitude

January 25, 2013 — May 5, 2013
In the Small Gallery

Opening Reception & Artist Talk
Friday, January 25, 5:30 – 8:00 PM

Artist talk by Janice Jakielski at 5:30. The reception will also feature two other exhibition openings, the 2013 NCECA Biennial and Roughneck: A Juried ClayHouston Exhibition, and open studios by HCCC’s current resident artists from 6:00 – 7:00 PM. Beer sponsored by Karbach Brewing Co.

Master Workshop
Manipulating Fabric: Flowers, Frippery &
Fascinators with Janice Jakielski
Sunday, January 27, 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is pleased to present Constructing Solitude, a solo exhibition by Janice Jakielski, on view January 25 – May 5, 2013.  Brilliant candy-like colors and nostalgic images overwhelm the senses in this theatrical installation, which offers imaginative new ways of seeing, hearing and participating with the world around us.

Drawing from women’s fashions from bygone eras—including Amish bonnets from her childhood adventures in Pennsylvania and her grandmother’s circa-1930s hat collection—Janice Jakielski has created a stunning collection of handmade headdresses. At first glance, the meticulous craftsmanship lends an authority to the pieces as functional objects, but a second look reveals the absurdity and imagination at play.  If worn, the bonnets would obscure one’s sight and hearing, transporting the wearer to a place of solitude—one that might feel either particularly welcome or isolating in the current age of sensory overload.  By allowing the viewer to envision wearing these odd but fascinating pieces, the artist creates a “threshold space between reality and the imagination” through her works.

Jakielski embellishes her forms with embroidery and porcelain adornments depicting flowers and birds. She carefully selects the floral imagery for each work using the language of flowers or floriography—a Victorian-era means of communicating with flowers to send messages—adding coded meaning to the individual works. Similarly, her depiction of birds is a reference to auspicium, a form of divination that interprets signs from the gods through the flight or migration patterns of birds.  HCCC Curator, Anna Walker, says that Jakielski’s work is built in layers:  “There are not only layers of color, materials, and stitches constructing these fantastical pieces, but the artist also embeds metaphorical layers of meaning within the works. Initially, the pieces seem cheerful and celebratory, but closer contemplation reveals a certain amount of isolation and seriousness.”

Along with and echoing the headdresses, Constructing Solitude includes a site-specific, interactive installation of “props” that play with the viewer’s sense of sight.  Jakielski provides two sets of handmade cylindrical goggles to view a whimsical vignette she’s constructed from porcelain and mixed media.  However, like the bonnets, these goggles restrict the viewer’s peripheral vision. The artist explains: “This work is a humorous investigation of actual, metaphorical and poetic means of building connections between peoples. I am exploring methods of communication and the navigation of the spaces, both physical and mental, that we inhabit. . . By disrupting or enhancing the senses, my props make possible an exaggerated self-awareness, a break in the normalcy of daily experience.”

Having taken residencies and teaching positions in several different locations over the last few years, Jakielski has been far away from her family but feels it’s important to maintain personal connections.  By providing the two sets of goggles for her piece, she further explores ideas surrounding relationships and communication by enabling visitors to have a shared experience and view the exhibition simultaneously.

Janice Jakielski was born in Maytown, Pennsylvania, and currently lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she is a visiting artist at Alberta College of Art & Design.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York State College of Ceramic Art and Design at Alfred University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Jakielski has been an artist-in-residence at the Roswell Artist in Residence Program in Roswell, NM; the Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY; The Archie Bray Foundations for the Arts, Helena, MT; and was a fellow in 2012 at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Woodside, CA.  Her work has been shown at the Seattle Design Center, Seattle, WA; The Textile Arts Center, Brooklyn, NY; Pendleton Center for the Arts, Pendleton, OR; Greenwich House Pottery, New York, NY; Vertigo Artspace, Denver, CO; and the Clay Studio, Philadelphia, PA.

Above images: (1) Janice Jakielski, “Auspicium”. Fabric, mixed media; 18″ x 8” x 8.″ 2011. (2) Janice Jakielski, “Auspicium” (detail). Fabric, mixed media; 18″ x 8” x 8.″ 2011. (3) Janice Jakielski, “Beware! I am fanciful!” Fabric, window screen. 18″ x 8″ x 8.″ 2011.(4) Janice Jakielski, “Beware! I am fanciful!” (detail). Fabric, window screen. 18″ x 8” x 8.″ 2011. (5) Janice Jakielski, “Field.” Porcelain, mixed media. 2011. (6) Janice Jakielski, “Field” (detail). Porcelain, mixed media. 2011.  All photos by Joshua Persky.