Presenting visual and performance art in unexpected public spaces.

J Carpenter with “Rugged”

J Carpenter/Rugged

J Carpenter represents both domestic and familiar public settings, often using handmade lace and embroideries on paper. Her works evoke the simultaneous experiences of peace and anxiety, safety and confinement, which she believes characterize the home lives of many.

We wanted to learn more about J Carpenter’s current Art in Odd Places project: Rugged. Here’s what she had to say …

AiOP: How would you describe your work?

J Carpenter: I use handmade lace and embroidery to represent domestic and familiar public settings. “Rugged” utilizes a different material, dried acrylic paint, to produce an image similar to those in my body of work that may exist in the public realm.

J Carpenter’s “Live Wires.” Photo by Daniel King

AiOP: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? When did you start pursuing public/performance art?

JC: I am from New Jersey and studied painting at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. My work has since evolved from painting, to embroidery on top of painting, to strictly embroidery, to three-dimensional lace making. I began pursuing public art approximately two years ago, when I began working on a monumental public sculpture comprised of steel lace. Upon coordinating a DrawNow! flash mob drawing event with The Drawing Center and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, I became fascinated with seeing the way the public interacts with art.

AiOP: What interests you most about public art?

JC: I think placing art in the public realm is a true test to see if the work effectively relays something about the core of human experience, as individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds have the opportunity to view public art. If people from various walks of life respond to the piece, I believe that speaks to the piece’s effectiveness.

An interactive public art project: Stretch It Out! Photo by Caroline Voagen Nelson.

AiOP: How does your project fit in with this year’s theme: MODEL?

JC: The piece is very much about the efforts that we make to become model family members and friends, to behave with kindness and integrity in our home lives.

AiOP: How did your project come together? What was your inspiration?

JC: “Rugged” evolved from a series of embroideries on paper, each depicting a domestic setting devoid of figures. Viewers of these drawings tend to insert characters into the depicted spaces in their imaginations. Changing the material and size of one particular embroidery, which represents a floor, allowed me to make a piece that viewers may physically  enter. In this way, viewers may populate the piece physically as well as psychologically.

AiOP: What are you hoping the audience gets out of your project?

JC: My intention is for viewers to walk this “runway” during afternoon rush hour, as they are on their way home, thinking about their home lives. I hope this will produce a heightened sense of awareness of viewers’ own thoughts about home.

AiOP: Any upcoming events/exhibitions?

JC: A series of my prints will be exhibited at the Jersey City Studio Tour, October 13th and 14th.


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