Today I’d love to invite you to meet the fabulous Leslie Tucker Jenison! She is a kind, creative, and energetic artist and teacher. I hope you will enjoy hearing about her journey as much as I have.
Lyric: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Leslie: I’ve always been interested in art and spent a lot of time making art as a kid.
I was encouraged to explore art by my parents, but I think they gave me the message that it wasn’t supposed to be a “real” career. Fortunately for me I was just as passionate about medicine, particularly nursing. I went through nursing school and practiced as an RN in some aspect of women’s health, mostly as a Labor and Delivery nurse, for many years. I also taught a lot of community health workshops over the years, such as childbirth preparation classes, a mother-daughter class for pre-teens called “What’s Happening To Me?”, and a wide variety of other relevant seminars and workshops for women throughout their lifecycle. I loved it!
Even though my grandmother was a quilt maker, I really caught the “bug” from a nurse colleague in Labor & Delivery back in 1980.
Lyric: Tell me about your journey.
The early years were not prolific for me as a quilter, between working full time, teaching part-time, and raising a family. (Gee, I can’t imagine why!)
It wasn’t until my husband moved his company, Newtek, Inc., to San Antonio that I returned to my deep love of art. Due to family issues back in Kansas I spent the first 6 years commuting frequently. Therefore, I did not return to my nursing practice, but rather, focused on picking up a paintbrush. Eventually, I discovered surface design on cloth and it seemed to marry all the things I loved about working with textiles to paint and dye! It opened up a new world to me, one that I’m glad to say I have immersed myself in.
After the youngest of my three daughters left for college, my studio practice became a full time endeavor and I returned to another love: teaching. This time the focus is on mixed-media and stitch. I limit my workshop travel because I really want to balance that with my studio practice. I love to write, and have been fortunate to find some opportunities to do that in the quilt world.
I have a wonderful partnership with my dear friend, Jamie Fingal, the other half of Dinner At Eight Artists. Jamie and I collaborate on several ventures: we curate exhibitions, teach, and occasionally write together. Mostly, we are known for having a very good time together wherever we are! I can say without hesitation that there is never a dull moment when the two of us are in the same city with one another. We have supported each other as mothers, daughters, artists, and friends through good times and bad.
I consider myself the most fortunate woman on the planet.
Lyric: Why have you chosen textiles as a medium?
Two main reasons: first, and this might seem a bit odd and is probably something I think more about because of my background as an L&D nurse, but textiles are the second thing we experience against our bodies after we are born (the first being touch). We have an intimate relationship with textiles and therefore I believe they give us a lot of comfort. The second reason is that textiles, particularly quilted textiles, have what I call a 2.5 dimensional quality. It makes using them as an art form unique. Depending on the choice of cloth and style of stitching the cloth/quilt surface can take on a enormous number of characteristics. I doubt that I will ever grow tired of exploring the possibilities!
Lyric: What or who is your inspiration?
I have to say that I’m inspired by so many people and things. My grandmother always had a needle in her hand, a quilt in the frame, a wedding dress on the form in her sewing room (she was the seamstress in her small town), and my nurse colleague, Edith York, who really took me under her wing and mentored me in the beginning. Libby Lehman was someone whose work really turned my head the first time I attended IQF in Houston in 1992. Her work was traditional with a twist: I was hooked! I had the opportunity to tell her how much she inspired me as I stood in line with her two years ago awaiting admission to the awards ceremony in Houston. I have so many talented friends in this wonderful little subculture (you amongst them!) who continually inspire and challenge me.
So much of what I make is inspired by the things I see when I travel, and also in my backyard garden. The trick is to take the time to really observe. The sketchbook is a valuable place to document things with notes and sketches.
Lyric: Is there anything coming up that you would like to tell my readers about?
I truly adore the give and take of the workshop environment. I’m happy to be teaching a bit more this year at the following venues:
“Not Fade Away: Sharing Stories In The Digital Age”.
Jamie Fingal and I will be debuting “An Exquisite Moment”, the most recent juried exhibition of Dinner At Eight Artists, at the Long Beach Quilt Festival. http://dinnerateightartists.blogspot.com/p/an-exquisite-moment-2013.html
I’ll be teaching a workshop in conjunction with “Quilter’s Take Manhattan” in New York City this fall. Details and registration will be available soon on the Quilt Alliance website! http://www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/support/events.php
I will be teaching at Art & Soul mixed media retreat this fall in Portland, Oregon.