Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Featured Artist Profile: Jean Brueggenjohann

Hi everyone and welcome to 2014! I hope everyone survived the holidays and year end business and can dive into art with a relish. Today I'm thrilled to share a little more about one of our fabulous Missouri artists, Jean Brueggenjohann.  I love her use of bold geometric shapes to create a feeling of place, as well as a sense of depth and texture.

1. Who are you and where do you live?

I am a professional graphic designer and professor of Art in the Graphic Design Media Area at the University of Missouri–Columbia, MO. I work in the graphic design field designing mostly books and other print material for non-profits and art museums. I have been making quilts since 1991.

Jean Brueggenjohann, Window to Enchantment-I wanted to do a really elaborate and fantasy-like quilt.

2. Tell us a little bit about your artistic journey and how you got started?

My grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and great aunt were seamstresses, tailors and all were quilters. My mom is an excellent seamstress and I learned to sew clothing at an early age from her. I took my first quilt class in 1991 and found that I loved the similarity to graphic design working with cloth. I received a Sabbatical in 1994 when teaching at California State Northridge in Los Angeles to create a letterpressed small edition book but the Northridge Earthquake happened and the Fine Arts Building was destroyed. Instead I made my first art quilts using fabric paint for my Sabbatical. 

Jean Brueggenjohann, Four Square Third Leave–Hand set letterpress printed type on antique textiles and feed sacks. Text is a post civil war children’s rhyme.

Jean Brueggenjohann, Reminiscent of the winter sunsets in central Missouri. First illustrative quilt.

3. How do you describe your work?

My work is usually a combination of traditional piecing, applique and using unusual materials such as dyed fabric, tulle, letterpress printed typography, beading, sequins and embroidery. Mostly, I like the interplay of traditional and nontraditional techniques, design and materials.

Jean Brueggenjohann, Enchanted Evening-Continuing the theme with a more elaborate landscape. I made 12x12 inch blocks for easy quilting because I had tendonitis in my shoulder.

4. Do you have any favorite techniques or approaches?

Most recently I have been making landscapes and I am most happy when using my sewing machine so I do most of my work using the machine. I do hand work as needed mostly paper piecing applique making my own patterns and designs. When I lived in Los Angeles I took adult education quilt classes at the local high school with a wonderful teacher, Rita Streimer. She researched every technique you can image for class and I learned so much from her. The quilting techniques I learned gave me the freedom to create almost anything I want in my quilts.

Jean Brueggenjohann, Enchanted Baskets

5. What do you want to communicate with your work?

I don’t really have any idea about what I want to communicate. I feel like my quilts are pretty clear about what they are.

Jean Brueggenjohann, Enchanted Jungle-The outer blocks made with African fabric were left over from another quilt. I made the center design to go with them.

6. What methods, or lifestyle tips, or time management tips do you find helpful to producing work?

I treat quilting like my design work. I make pencil sketches and keep a sketchbook for ideas. I think about the ideas and when the time is right the quilt comes together. I do not worry about getting things done on any time frame and usually have several quilts going at the same time. I am a big believer in planning and using grid paper to refine my sketches and then I blow up my sketches to the correct size at a local blueprint shop. I tack this full size paper sketch to my design wall and I have a precise sketch to follow. I used this method for all the landscapes. For traditional pieced quilts I just stick to the small-scale sketches. I use my camera along the way to document and compare pinned variations of designs as I finalize the quilts. Occasionally, I make Illustrator or Photoshop sketches to work out the color and design. I always listen to music when I work, usually alternative rock.

7. What kind of studio/workspace do you have and what features of your surroundings are most helpful for your productivity/work?

I have a dedicated room for my quilt construction, sketching and cutting. I have a larger room, which used to be a family room that houses my design wall, long arm, cabinets and bookcases.

8. Which artists, other individuals or subjects currently inspire you?

I have been very fortunate to see lots of people and their work. When I lived in Los Angeles, I belonged to the San Fernando Valley Quilt Guild and during the early to mid 1990s we had just about anyone who was anyone in the quilt world as a guest speaker. It was inspiring to see such outstanding work. A turning point in my work came when Jinny Beyer was a guest speaker. I bought her book and made one of her intricate quilts. I realized that I possessed the skill to be a very fine technical quilt maker.

Jean Brueggenjohann, Rising Star-Traditional wall quilt.

9. Do you have a blog or website you'd like to share?

No blog or website. I work with students trying to make websites everyday in class and it is the last thing I want to do when I get home. I would rather sew. 

Thanks so much to Jean for sharing her work with us!  Please just let me know if you'd like to be featured in this space!

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