Artist explores many dimensions of fabric
Works by Jeanette Durand
Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Gallery, Village Hall, 123 Madison St., Oak Park
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through June
Updated: May 22, 2012 9:12PM
Jeanette Durand has always been fascinated by fabrics. “I’m a real tactile person,” explained the Oak Park artist. “I like constructing with fabric in a two-dimensional as well as a three-dimensional way. There’s a lot of possibilities in patterns.”
Fifteen framed textile collages by Durand are on display through the end of June in the Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Gallery at Village Hall. There is also one painting.
“Even as a little girl, I always worked with fabrics,” Durand said. In high school, she channeled that love into creating clothing.
Finding a niche
She planned to go into fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was accepted into that program. “But I didn’t want to give up doing painting classes so I found this niche in the Fiber Department,” Durand said.
The artist worked for several years in the Textiles Department and the Decorative European Arts Department at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Durand said that she takes her inspiration from the fabrics. “I just start cutting shapes in most of the textile collages,” she explained. “Sometimes
I’m headed toward a landscape. Sometimes there’s
a little house in it. Sometimes I have something in mind. Other times, I have these shapes and I’m just trying to see how I can use different fabrics to create a tree.”
Naturally, that method requires Durand to have a lot of fabric on hand, so she can frequently be found shopping — most recently seeking fabrics with a metallic accent. “Usually, I’m looking for something that has movement,” she said.
Durand reported that she found some interesting pieces during a trip to Hawaii last winter.
Each of her collages is layered, then machine stitched to add dimension.
You can see an example of a different form of Durand’s work in a mural that she painted below the Green Line tracks on South Blvd. near Oak Park Ave. It strongly resembles her fabric work, which is often reflective of nature. “It’s based on a really small textile,” she said. “I took this little tiny textile and made it 6 feet by 8 feet.”
Creating her first piece of public art was a wonderful experience for Durand, who particularly enjoyed having people observe her at work. “Sometimes they just give you a smile,” she said. “Other times, they strike up a conversation or buy you a coffee.”
Durand was commissioned to create another mural, which she will finish in June. Then, before the new school year starts, the mother of two children, ages 13 and 10, will move to San Francisco where her husband recently accepted a job.
The artist doesn’t exhibit her work at art fairs, preferring to show her pieces in galleries. She participated in a “One of a Kind Show” at the Merchandise Mart. That was an appropriate setting for her work because no two of Durand’s pieces are ever the same.
She insisted that she’s not trying to convey a particular message through her artwork. “I have learned not to tell people about what I see in my work,” she said. “People should look at it and see what it touches in them.”