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Jessica Sanders: My Life has Been a Tapestry, Inside the Artists Studio

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Inside the Artist’s Studio:

Jessica Sanders

My Life has Been a Tapestry

By Derrick White

“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue. An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view. A wondrous, woven magic in bits of blue and gold. A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold,” these lyrics come from American singer-songwriter Carole King’s song “Tapestry” from the album of the same name. It is one of the best-selling albums of all time. It received four Grammys in 1972, including album of the year. I mention this because when one first experiences the amazing artwork of local artist Jessica Sanders, it is so incredibly beautiful that you will actually feel the earth move under your feet.

If you would like to experience this visceral sensation for yourself, visit “Shape and Form,” a two woman exhibition featuring Cierra McGuckie and Jessica Sanders on view through May 31st at the Martin Walker Law Firm (121 N. Spring Ave., Downtown Tyler). The gallery space is the historic, former Arcadia Theater. Displayed are large-scale female face oil paintings by Cierra McGuckie, and ceramic, porcelain, tapestry wall mounted sculptures by Jessica Sanders.

Cierra’s work creates a kind of psychological acumen with powerful, emotional intensity. They are visually entrancing and one’s mind begins to create narratives and starts to piece together genealogies while unable to look away from haunting stares.

Jessica’s sculptures are painstakingly assembled (or sewn) small, handcrafted, fired and glazed, geometrically shaped porcelain tiles. Her creations are hung on the wall and seem sinuous, soft, and organic. The undersized individual pieces transcend their uniqueness and become a complete form which is much greater than the sum of its parts. After you get over the initial fascination with the amount of labor devoted to creating each one of these pieces, you will start to see the immense exquisiteness of configuration and texture and a transformation of small and geometric into monumental and environmental. It is magical. It is truly a next level art experience.

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This show is curated by local, visual arts juggernaut Dace Lucia Kidd. Also, if you really hurry, you can view Jessica’s work in a three person exhibition titled “Transitions” (works by Sanders, John Miranda, and Lisa Horlander) in the Fine Arts Complex Gallery at UTTyler, up through March 2nd.

“I love the intellectual side of art and the idea of the contemporary conversation going on. Art for me has been an exploration for truth, for beauty, and understanding. The fact there is always more for me to explore is really exciting. The most unexpected things can be the most beautiful,” states Jessica Sanders. “My work is comprised of small ceramic pieces attached together to make a larger piece. The pieces are very flexible and often compared to fabric, this idea of taking something solid and hard and making it fluid is very intriguing to me,” affirms Sanders, adding, “I’ve dabbled in all kinds of media, painting, fibers, printmaking, mixed media, and sculpture. But right now I am focusing on ceramics. If someone had told me three years ago I would be working on a Master’s degree focusing on ceramics I would have laughed. When I was at TJC I was strictly a two dimensional artist. Once I got to UTTyler, the only advanced studio open was ceramics and the idea of taking advanced ceramics was terrifying! My first semester was pretty rough, I had no idea what I was doing, but in the last few weeks I found a pretty cool direction and ended up signing up for the next semester, and then the next. I’ve been interested in installation art for a while and have found ways to meld this with my ceramics, which has been a very exciting development for me.”

Jessica continues, “I come from a very artsy family. My mother was a drama and English teacher with a love of literature, so I grew up watching a lot of musicals and theater. I was exposed to things other kids my age weren’t seeing. My Dad is also an artist. I was very influenced by him growing up. He is a great draftsman and does really nice work with colored pencil, but my favorite things are his sketchbooks. They are goofy and zany and I’ve always loved watching him draw up jokes. When my brother and I were younger, Dad would take us to zoos and we would sketch animals. I loved doing it so much and I was inspired by how good my dad and brother were.” Jessica is also influenced by artists such as Sam Gilliam (color field painter and expressive abstractionist working on draped canvas adding sculptural, 3-D elements). “He creates beautiful drapes and folds with his un-stretched canvas and his color palettes are to die for! The Dallas Museum of Art has one of his works on view titled “leaf,” it’s a must see,” exclaims the artist.

“It just sort of happened, I had started a needlepoint tapestry a few months before we did the album, and I happened to write a song called ‘Tapestry,’ not even connecting the two up in my mind. I was just thinking about some other kind of tapestry, the kind that hangs and is all woven, or something and I wrote that song,” a quote by Carole King.

Jessica’s artwork will be included in the prestigious NCECA (National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts) Juried Show in Pittsburgh, PA March 9th – April 22nd at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Sanders earned her Associate’s degree in art from Tyler Junior College, a B.F.A. from the University of Texas at Tyler, and is currently working towards her M.F.A. at University of Texas at Tyler. You can find more information about Jessica Sanders and her work at jessicalsandersart.com.

“Once amid the soft silver sadness in the sky, every life, seemingly slow and dull, is in reality bursting with color. Matching a woven story on a tapestry, each life explodes with action, love, drama, sorrow, and more. Everyone experiences this same rich and intriguing story.”*

*Tapestry annotation by Gavin Matthews.

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Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps Begin

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Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps 2018

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. M-F * Ages 6-12 * $40 per day/$175 per week

TMA World Tour 2018      June 25-29

We’ll expand the visual arts to include music and performance. In addition to our visual art activities, our young artists will make musical instruments, learn a song, and play a mini-concert at the end of the week.

Upside-down and Backward      July 9-13

Everything looks different from a fresh perspective. Drawing underwater, painting with spaghetti, there’s no telling what will happen when we change the way we make art. This camp is all about real creativity, and our young artists will help us brainstorm up new, exciting projects all week long.

Beachcombers’ Paradise     July 16-20

Love the seashore but hate sunburns and foot-scorching sand? Come explore marine environments through art! Biology, art and fun merge into one great experience as we learn about the weird, wonderful world of sea life and environments, and express our new knowledge through art.

5 Days Away from Rose City   July 23-27

Some of the country’s greatest artists call the Lone Star State home. We will explore the geographical regions of Texas and the artists who gain inspiration in them, ending up right here in East Texas.

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6×6@110 Continues at Gallery Main Street

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Skip the line, purchase tickets in advance HERE.
Purchase VIP tickets HERE.

The annual 6×6@110 is an art fundraising project to benefit Gallery Main Street in Downtown Tyler, Texas. The gallery is a City of Tyler facility operated with the cooperation of the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition, an all-volunteer group of artists who schedule and jury fine arts exhibits and organize projects. All of the net proceeds of 6×6@110 will go to support those activities.

The annual 6×6@110 fundraising project will be held June 6th at 6pm. Each piece will be sold for $20, with all proceeds going to help fund the City of Tyler Main Street Department, which operates Gallery Main Street.

The name “6×6@110” reflects the fact that all artwork sold in the show will be 6”x6”, and will be shown at Gallery Main Street at 110 W. Erwin, Downtown Tyler.

For more info on this project go to downtowntylerarts.com, call (903)593-6905, or follow the Downtown Tyler Facebook Page.

The 2017 6×6@110 featured over 1000 works by hundreds of participants. The project earned the distinction of receiving the Best Promotional Event award from the Texas Downtown Association.

First Solo Show Opening

Help celebrate the opening of Gallery Main Street’s first fine art solo artist exhibit on Saturday, May 12th, 5:30-8pm. This free event will feature the opportunity to meet the artist and be among the first to see and purchase pieces from the exhibit. The exhibit will run through June 4th.

The jury will select the top three groups of submittals and then additional information and show descriptions will be submitted. The jury will review all additional information and will announce the solo artist on April 28th.

Other Upcoming Exhibits

Remaining shows this year are:

  • Solo Show #1 – Opening May 12th
  • “6x6x10” – Deadline June 1st, opening June 6th
  • Solo Show #2 – Deadline June 17th, opening July 14th
  • “Assemblies” – Deadline July 29th, opening August 11th
  • “Alternate Perspective” – Deadline September 30th, opening October 13th
  • Holiday Market – Deadline November 25th, opening December 8th

You can enter your art at DowntownTylerArts.com. For more info call (903)593-6905 or go to DowntownTylerArts.com.

Gallery Main Street features a new exhibit of original art approximately every eight weeks. Each exhibit opens with a Saturday evening reception that features music, an opportunity to meet the artists, refreshments, and more. The Opening Receptions are free and open to the public.

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Art Events Warming Up For Summer

Events & Classes

June 16th (11am-11:30pm) June 17th (11am-4pm) – Junebug Art and Music Festival – Calling all artists! Junebug is an annual community Art and Music festival with an afternoon farmers market. This event encompasses art in its many forms. There will be teachers of weaving and soap making, along with hands on pottery wheel demonstrations. Attendees’ senses will be engulfed by the sights, sound, smell, and feel of all that is to be offered at this very unique art event in a very quaint little artsy community. The show will offer up a stage filled with eclectic musicians, bands, and songwriters. Saturday there will be a community Farmers Market where locals can sell their organic and/or locally sourced products. Vendor and artist applications are available at theforgebenwheeler.com. The family-friendly festival, which is located in the tiny art enclave of Ben Wheeler,TX, highlights the work of artists, musicians, and artisans from the Lone Star state. Headquartered on the three-acre park-like property surrounding the FORGE (a local restaurant, bar, and music venue), the festival will give attendees an opportunity to witness the creative process through “live art” displays as well as the chance to actively join in the process. For more information email junebugsummerfair@gmail.com.

June 22nd (7-9pm) – Paperbark Studio Pop Up will be held at Strada Caffe, 302 E. Front St., Tyler. Come join us for a pop-up art show featuring Paperbark Studio as well as craft beer, wine, and small plates, espresso bar and pastry case. Come enjoy a wonderful summer evening of local art!

June 26th (6-8pm) – Kids Canvas Paint Party – Tyler Parks and Recreation is hosting a Kids Paint Party at the Glass Recreation Center for children ages 7-12 years old. For more information, please visit TylerParksandRec.com.

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