Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Interview with "Fiber Focus 2011" artist Luanne Rimel

by Janna Añonuevo Langholz

Luanne Rimel. Sentinel. 2011. Photo on Cotton Flour Sack Cloth, Pieced, Quilted, 18”x18".

Art Saint Louis Fall 2011 volunteer Janna Añonuevo Langholz has been interviewing some of the artists featured in our current “Fiber Focus 2011” exhibition.

Janna’s fifth interview is with Luanne Rimel, an artist, curator, and currently Senior Director of Education and Exhibition Programs at Craft Alliance in St. Louis, MO. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Japan, China, and Korea, and is in many private and corporate collections. She received her MFA in Fibers from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and has taught numerous workshops and classes around the country.  In addition to her work featured in this year’s “Fiber Focus 2011,” Luanne’s work was exhibited in “Fiber Focus 1995,” “Fiber Focus 1999,” “Fiber Focus 2003,” and “Fiber Focus 2007”.


Janna: Where did you grow up?
Luanne: I grew up in University City and went all the way through the public schools there.

Janna: When did you begin sewing?
Luanne: My first memory of actual sewing, (not yarns through a punched card, which I do remember enjoying), but I made Barbie Doll clothes on a very small hand turned Singer Sewing machine when I was in fifth grade. It actually worked and I remember cutting the pattern and sewing a green 60’s style swing coat for my doll. Then my grandmother gave me a (very heavy) wonderful blue metal sewing machine when I was in junior high and I made many of my own clothes.

Janna: What is your working process like?
Luanne: I tend to work in a series. My main content ideas relate to time and memory but my photographic images change with the series. I work on several pieces at a time so they “talk” to each other and head toward a cohesive body of work. I always have a camera when I travel so I can record things that interest me and may become part of a piece one day. The selected segments of the photographs are printed on cotton flour sack dishtowels that I prepare for the inkjet printer. After printing, I begin the construction of the piece, basting a backing and beginning the meditative stitching process. One piece takes a very long time.

Luanne Rimel. Silent Sound. Photograph Printed on Cotton Floursack-Cloth Dish Towels, Pieced, Layered and Stitched/Hand Quilted, 18"x18".

Janna: How does time pass when marked by stitches?
Luanne: That’s an interesting question. It is an interesting process to work so slowly and watch a piece evolve. Since I do not just stitch straight across the piece very often, I have to make decisions about what direction the stiches will go, what color threads, how much to pull to create the texture. And the imagery is very abstract when at such close range so I often have to pin the piece to the wall after a bit to see exactly what I have done. But it takes about one hour to stitch 4 square inches but I look forward to it and miss the act of stitching if I don’t work on something for a few days.

Janna: Could you tell me more about your piece currently on display at Art Saint Louis, Sentinel?
Luanne: Sentinel is a photograph of just the hand of a life size cemetery statue in New Orleans. She guards the doorway of an above ground tomb with copper flowers in her hand. Flowers in cemetery statues symbolize life and beauty and I responded to the gesture of the hand forever holding these symbols.

Luanne Rimel. Victory. Photograph Printed on Cotton Floursack-Cloth Dish Towels, Pieced, Layered and Stitched/Hand Quilted, 18"x18".

Janna: Whose hands appear in your pieces?
Luanne: I have done a series of works using cloth combined with the hands of aging women – hands that have lived a long life and show the beauty of activity. Currently I am finding hands and cloth carved in stone intrigue me and seem to speak to my ideas of time and memory.

Janna: Who or what has influenced your work the most?
Luanne: Curiosity has influenced my work and the desire to make my ideas visible.

Luanne Rimel. Still Smith. Photograph Printed on Cotton Floursack-Cloth Dish Towels, Pieced, Layered and Stitched/Hand Quilted, 18"x18".

Janna: What has been one your best experiences as a fibers artist?
Luanne: Wonderful, wonderful people are in the world of fibers. It is a generous group of artists, always sharing techniques and giving encouragement and support. I have traveled to great places because of fiber exhibits and conferences and have met some terrific people. Probably one of my best experiences was the trip my husband and I made to Kyoto, Japan because I was in an exhibition of collaborative work with artist Betsy Sterling Benjamin. She made that exhibition possible and the trip still influences my work today.

"Fiber Focus 2011" remains on view at Art Saint Louis through October 13, 2011. Art Saint Louis is located at 555 Washington Avenue, #150, St. Louis, MO 63101 (downtown on Washington between 6th & Broadway). Gallery is free & open to the public Monday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 


Janna Añonuevo Langholz is a Fall 2011 volunteer at Art Saint Louis helping with the “Fiber Focus 2011” exhibition. A St. Louis native, she recently moved back to the city after graduating with a BFA in Fibers at Truman State University this year. After taking some time off to travel and work on her portfolio, Janna plans on attending graduate school and continue her studies in fibers and mixed media.

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