Artist Spotlight: Jane Sassaman

July 19, 2012

I’d love to introduce you to a long-time favorite artist of mine – the lovely and talented Jane Sassaman. I have quite a few of her pieces in my favorite lecture (The Elements of Art). Her work is bold, full of movement, and speaks to my heart.

L: I’m always very interested in the different paths people take to their current place. Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? How did you get to where you are?

Jane: Yes, there was no other career path for me. Thank goodness my parents encouraged me along the way. But I have always been tunnel-visioned and it is very easy to ignore everything else when I have a goal or a project in the works. When I’m at home, I’m in the studio eight hours a day, seven days a week. 

 When I started quilting my goal was to be in the Quilt National with all those other quilters that I admired so much. So that was the first show I entered and luckily I was accepted, in fact I was in every Quilt National from 1989-2005. I think that exposure helped get my work into the world. I think it’s about time to enter again!

Lyric: I think it’s very important for creative people to have a space of their own (no matter how small) where they can walk in and get to work. Tell me about your working space.

 Jane: I have a nice big studio space now, but for years I worked on the only table in a small house in the middle of family life. Yes, a nice studio is great, but determination and vision can overcome many obstacles. 

My current space is in a separate building on our property, so now I can actually have some privacy. It is still waiting for more bookcases and storage, but it is great to have a larger space to spread into. The walls are painted bright yellow and saffron, colors that I find very energetic and encouraging.

Lyric: Your work is very bold and graphic in quality. Have you always worked this way or did you wander through various styles before “finding your voice?”

 Jane: I seem to have been born with a preference for hard edged graphics and solid colors. Even in junior high school my work contained these elements. And these some of the characteristics that drew me to quilting, along with the craftsmanship, fabric, scale and independence.

 Lyric: How do you balance the business side of your work with making art?

Jane: Sigh! I have found I’m a much better artist than a business woman! I would love to hook up with someone who’s “art” is business. These days the studio work often takes a back seat to correspondence. But I am determined to adjust those proportions this year. I am also designing fabric for FreeSpirit/Westminster, which I LOVE doing. This designing takes a lot of time and concentration. And then I design quilts with the fabric to show the fabrics potential… and this is what Patchwork Sassaman Style is all about. I’m hoping that this book will excite people into using some of those big beautiful prints.

Lyric: Is there an event coming up that you would like to tell us about?

 Jane: I will be attending the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, August 16-19 to do a lecture and a Meet the Designer event hosted by Kaffe Fassett.

This will be my first trip to the show and I am really looking forward to seeing all the quilts and meeting their makers.

So – isn’t she amazing? Are you as in love with her work as I am? That beautiful scarf is for sale on her website, along with some of her beautiful fabric and patterns.

Stay tuned – Jane has a new book that I’ll review (and give away!) tomorrow!

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