Talk Crafty to Me — An inside look into Arrowmont instructors’ connection to craft, Gatlinburg, and studio practice.
Artist-in-Residence Maia Leppo interviews Skye Livingston – fiber artist who works in textiles, paper and organic materials. Skye first visited Arrowmont in 2014 and spent her summer working as a studio assistant. In 2015, Skye was accepted as an Artist-in-Residence for the 11-month program. Skye is returning to campus this fall to teach “Structure in Silk” – March 30 – April 2. 2017. Register online or call 865-436-5860.
What is your connection to craft?
Actually this is somewhat complicated for me. I really didn’t know about or fully understand the distinction between “art” and “craft” until college. The fiber program at the Kansas City Art Institute was quite interdisciplinary, so I created more of a fine arts practice through a fairly rigorous technical craft training. I’ve always felt like I have one foot in the fine art world, and one foot in the craft word, but that my work doesn’t fully fit into either category. I think this has led to a somewhat divergent body of work and approach to making, so I’m trying to reconcile that.
What is a non-art inspiration in your current practice?
I find myself increasingly interested in issues of sustainability and environmental impact. I think it’s a common theme for textile artists, as there are many avenues to pursue with more natural fiber materials and processes, but I’m trying to find the best way for my studio practice to continue in a more responsible manner.
Tell us about your studio space. What is your favorite part of it?
My studio space is the larger of two bedrooms on the second floor of our house and it’s pretty quirky. The walls are wood-paneled and the ceiling follows the downward slope of the roof on one side. Throughout my career I’ve worked in over a dozen different studio spaces and I prefer when my studio is in my living space. For me, the fewer obstacles I have getting to my work space, the more productive I am.
What are you reading currently?
Fragments Recalled at Eighty: The Art Memoirs of Ellen H. Johnson
Why do you make art?
I like the challenge. It’s a difficult field, to say the least, but I like how open-ended it is, and how the tenets of my creative practice flow over into all aspects of my life. I would be lying if I didn’t confess that I frequently think about quitting and pursuing a more stable career path, but I’m just not done with it yet.
What themes are in your current work?
I’ve been drawing connections between one’s body and one’s home for quite a while, but currently that concept is expanding to include location as well, so I’m thinking a lot about the role of landscape now too.
Best piece of advice you have gotten?
One of my professors at the Kansas City Art Institute, Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, used to always tell recent graduates “get yourself into trouble.” She meant apply for everything, seek opportunities that are beyond your current level, and commit to exhibitions, collaborations etc., as a way to push your practice further and get some external deadlines on your calendar. That mentality always stuck with me, and whenever I feel stagnate in the studio, I go look for some trouble.
What special talent would you choose if you could magically gain one?
I wish I were a better storyteller. Actually, I just wish my social skills were better in general, but I’m particularly envious of people who can spin what would otherwise be a pretty mundane anecdote into a captivating narrative.
What are you currently listening to in your studio and why?
So many podcasts. Some of my favorites that appeal to my unsolved mystery interest are Thinking Sideways, Criminal, Lore and Crimetown, but I also love everything that comes out of NPR.
Any shows or exhibitions coming up?
I will be in a group show organized by Venison—an online art magazine—this this summer at Abrams Claghorn Gallery in Albany, CA.