Jane Park ( 박재인 ) is a Korean-Canadian artist with a BFA in textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Her name is synonymous in English as it is in Korean - like the way her father wanted it to be. She is an INFP. In the morning, she likes her coffee black; and when she remembers to, she likes to count her blessings and contemplate how much she has to be thankful for.
She is a maker of tangible objects, bringing back the attention towards the process of slow making. She discovers creativity in discipline, and finds liberation in rendering her visual diary into tactile wovens.
She is currently living in Boston, MA as an apparel designer.
Jane shares an in-depth look into her creative practice and explains the method she uses to produce her woven artworks and how this is a meditative process for her as an artist. Read on to find out more!
We’re looking forward to featuring your work in Curatorial Volume.1, Leaders in Contemporary Art. Could you tell us about the pieces that you’re showcasing in the publication?
I chose pieces that were the most personal to me -- I find intimate works to be the ones that turn out the best because all of the choices you make are meaningful, otherwise you’re doing a disservice to yourself.
Most of these pieces were created after the passing of my grandfather, so a lot of my aesthetic choices revolved around the way I experienced cultural differences in how death and colour was received in Asia, being a second generation Korean growing up in Canada and being educated in the US.
Some of these are directly about family, some of them are about slowing down, and some of them are about intuition; but all of them are about finding creativity and quiet in the confines of vertical and horizontal lines / threads (namely, weaving).
We’re very interested to learn how you produce your work, could you take us through the creation of a piece such as ‘White Flower 3’ from conception to final completion?
I’m not a sketcher. So weaving is my way of sketching (only a little slower than pencil on paper). Just like people don’t plan a sketch, most of these small hand woven pieces are unplanned. I’ll think generally of what I want it to look like, but it’s subject to change as I weave it. It’s a direct translation of my ideas on fabric. That’s why the background of a lot of my pieces are white -- I see it like paper: a surface on which new colours and textures can exist.
As for the process of weaving itself, I prepare a warp (the vertical threads on a loom) by counting the ends and measuring the length. After dressing the loom (tensioning the yarn, threading, and tying on) I start weaving in the weft. I finish when I think I’m done.
After the piece is off the loom, I wash it with warm water and block it (meaning I square it off and pin it to the shape I need it to dry to). This sets the fabric into place and finishes it.
We would love to extrapolate on the concept of ‘slow making’ that you reference in your artist biography.
'She is a maker of tangible objects, bringing back the attention towards the process of slow making. She discovers creativity in discipline, and finds liberation in rendering her visual diary into tactile wovens.'
Could you tell us why this process is important to you and your body of work?
I started hand weaving because it’s repetitive and slow.
It’s quite poetic actually, the fact that a physical and time bearing task can let your mind rest. Measuring, counting, threading, and weaving is meditation. This is important to me, because I worry a lot. I believe rest and recovery is granted to you, and weaving is one way I can take that luxury -- it is to be thankful for the moment we’re in. I also think it’s special for you to be able to touch and feel the art you took time make.
We’re also so far removed from the process of making and the origin of the products we consume. When I travelled to Morocco for a little over a month last year to learn from local artisans, I was struck at how visible creating and making was when you walk through the souks. It showed me to value time, creativity, and the human capability to make and perfect. It’s important to see and know these values in what we create, whether it’s art, food, products, anything. We have to take the time slow down when we need it.
Where do you find inspiration for your creative practice?
The short answer is a cop out and boring: it’s everything.
The long answer is that I always feel like this question is so hard to answer for artists, because most of us don’t separate our creative minds and practices from the rest of our lives and thoughts. It’s not really a switch. The things that inspire me is as much a part of my daily life as making coffee in the morning and commuting to work. I think limiting inspiration to this or that makes for a pretty narrow view of the world, so inspiration could come from anything: visual, a feeling, a colour combination, or even just my need to sit down and make. I naturally think about what I want to make all the time.
Creativity is not only imagining, making, and manifesting ideas, but it’s also a way of thinking and taking in the world.
Your ‘Grandfather’ series showcases a range of woven portraits. Could you tell us about this series and share some background into the method involved in producing this work?
These are jacquard woven portraits. It’s a double weave, meaning the fabric is woven in two layers, and the image is inverted on the back.
This is the last photograph I took of my grandfather while visiting him in Seoul, right before I flew back to the US. I wanted to memorialize him and this photograph into something tangible -- something I could feel with my hands.
Each image or artwork that’s translated into a woven needs to be colour separated; so an image that has a million different colours needs to be paired down into a manageable number like 20 - 40 (this is by no means the standard, you can have as many colours as you’d like, it’s just more work). This number then gets translated into the areas I would need to assign a woven structure to. Once all colours have a weave that works with each other, the digital file is brought to the jacquard loom and woven!
How has your creative practice evolved over time, and are there any new mediums or textiles that you’d like to experiment with in the future?
When I first started making, I was so tied to the idea that I needed to have a concept to get started; but now, often when I make, the thinking and meaning comes while I’m making, because my ideas and feelings about it evolve. For me, I just need to start to get my creative momentum going.
There are still so many paths I could take within exploring textiles. People don’t realize the wide range of things I could do within this umbrella. I think I’d like to start incorporating embroidery and text into my work. I also want to explore creating larger pieces through modularity.
Alongside your artistic practice, you also work as an apparel designer, could you tell us about your role and what projects you work on?
Currently, I’m working as a designer at Reebok on the Apparel Innovation team. We work on designing, developing, and researching long term future products.
Do you have any resource recommendations for someone who is looking to start experimenting with textures and weaving as a beginner?
If you have a wooden frame at home and some nails, make yourself a frame loom! It’s so easy to use; everyone can do it. It’s not as complicated as you would think, and the possibilities on it are endless!
Finally, can you tell us about your professional aims and projects for the upcoming year?
Starting in February, I’ll be designing for the streetwear brand, Bodega, working on their in house apparel line and co branded collaborations!
I will also be showing alongside other artists with the National Association of Women Artists in their Small Works exhibition in New York City.