Scrap Bag Challenge - JoAnne Spies

Each artist who participated in the First EVER Scrap Bag Challenge that ran from March 22, 2014 til Earthday, and answered my virtual interview questions will be featured here over the next few weeks. The Scrap Bag Challenge took place, on the fly, as a part of the unearthing and purging in my studio.  As Shire City Sanctuary comes to be, my studio shrinks with glee - allowing me renewed freedom from stuff  and allowing our Makerspace room to accommodate a sewing room, screen printing shop, and teaching space.

We had over 50 responses within 24 hours of posting on facebook and sending our eblast announcement!  50 boxes were shipped across the world from Germany to Australia to our neighbors here in Pittsfield!  Wowsers!  The EXCITEMENT!!  So here we go!  First up, JoAnne Spies ~


Scrap Box Arrival

JoAnne Spies - Creamer Cozy

JoAnne Spies - Heard Its Legal to Buy The Election

1. Three sentences about you – anything you want. I grew up in Chicago. Love writing songs, singing, starting up rhythm and harmonies in groups, and making art from anything available. I love my latest project that re-purposes performance as walking and collaboration: 2. What additional materials did you use to complete your Challenge? Everything I could lay my hands on! It was interesting to see how many things I have that could be re-used, re-seen and re-purposed. A creamer got a cozy, a wig got a decorative 'net,' a paper cup got a pink felt java jacket, an old Van Gogh print became an art scrap jigsaw, a drum got re-surfaced, an old rainstick made from a cardboard box got a new cover, a tall mailing tube became a new rainstick, an old jimmy jangle rhythm stick got new bundles of stone and pine covered with cloth, its woodpecker fetish updated with sewn-on green wool. To add scraps to these objects found at home, I used any combination of ModPodge, Elmer's Glue, needle and thread and tacks.

3. How were you inspired to create what you made? At least 3 scraps came out of the box as ready-art. The shapes of the scraps suggested their use. (The scraps could also be used as writing prompts, but that would be another project!) The textures and colors of the scraps suggested where they belonged. Eventually there were scraps throughout my house. A cluster of green and red yarns by the kitchen baseboards, a batch of threads on my stairway... how'd they get there? A great metaphor for the stuff of creative process. Current events inspired me, especially the stunning news that it was basically now legal to buy an election in the U.S.

work in progress

Also, seeing a video with images of dead fish whose stomachs were full of plastic, made me think about more ways to re-cycle. This led to adding plastic caps to the rhythm instruments and making the cloth Java Jacket after learning that there are billions of paper cups used..

Cuff for wrist or coffee

cuff for coffee or wrist

Other inspiration: For years I've wanted to make art using fabric like Faith Ringgold. This scrap project got me warmed up, and I can't wait to work on a big canvas. Also having deadlines for other projects AND taxes due all at the same time made this project seem ludicrous to take on. It's a happy paradox.. this project created more space in my mind. The hands-on fabric work has a calming effect and helps my brain integrate information.

JoAnne Spies

gathering inspiration

4. What’s your fondest Recycled/Reused experience? Photographing my creations was a kick each time and always made me smile. I especially liked making the self-portraits, which I don't think I'd do on my own. The other thing that happened, I started using Facebook without cringing or wondering who the heck was looking at this stuff. Really enjoyed the excitement of sharing work, bonding with the other scrappers and seeing what they were doing. So many ways to create, sort through, make use of.. Imagine if more of us scrapped materials as a matter of course. I know I'll be looking at scraps with a new eye from now on.