Jennifer Moss is a fiber artist and one of the co-owners of Sulfur Studios. On this week’s episode of Art on the Air I spoke with her about her latest exhibition “Marked: Rusted Wovens” at the Cultural Arts Center, as well as the challenges and opportunities of being an artist and curator in the midst of our current health crisis.
“I weave cloth…using a variety of natural fibers and steel wire,” she explained of the process she used in making work for the new show, “and I’m embedding that steel wire in specific areas of the cloth as I’m creating it, so that when it’s finished, I can spray it with salt water, and that wire will start to rust. And so different patterns will emerge in the cloth as that rust starts to appear.”
Some of the pieces have been completed within the last month, leading to minimal changes in their appearance from Moss’ initial salt-water spray. Other pieces go back as far as 2017 and show a lot more of the intentional wear that she’s invoked through the technique.
“As these continue to rust, and they can get to the point where all that wire is…converting into iron oxide, it’s basically converting into pigment,” Moss elucidated, “which is often trapped in the fabric, [and] it sometimes does fall out of the fabric into a fine dust. But the fabric itself is not going to fall apart. So these pieces will remain for years or decades to come, but the color may change and where that color is appearing will change.”
At the time of this writing the gallery is still open, and readers are encouraged to use their own judgment on whether or not to make a visit to the space to see the exhibition. Given the uncertainly of our current situation, however, the artist recognizes and understands that each person needs to do what’s right for themselves.
“Things are just constantly developing” with COVID-19, said Moss, “Obviously we need to keep following the recommendations.”
“At Sulfur [Studios] we’re just kind of taking things one day at a time.” She continued, shifting gears from her role as artist to her role as curator, “I think that receptions will probably not happen like they have been. We are planning on going ahead with some of our scheduled shows as long as the recommendations for the CDC match that. So that people could come in an afternoon, a few people at a time.”
To a certain extent Moss and Sulfur Studios are better prepared than many galleries to continue to show work, even if it’s not in-person.
“Another thing we’ve been doing for a while is having our exhibitions online at the satellite galleries.” She said, “At sulfurstudios.org, it’s actually under ‘purchase art.’ The whole idea is that you could view the work at The Sentient Bean, or you could view the work at Starland Café, but the people who are working there, their job is not to sell art, so you could purchase the art through sulfurstudios.org.” Adding that she and her Sulfur Studios partners have been “thinking about moving some of the other exhibitions online” as well.
As for her personal work going forward, Moss hopes to get into her studio and create as the health crisis continues to evolve.
“I’m planning on making as much art as I can in the next two months and seeing what comes out of this.” She said, “I think it’ll be interesting to reflect on this. What did you make during the quarantine? It might be a really interesting thing to look back on and see what everyone’s responses are.”
“I do think it’s something that artists are really good at,” she concluded, “is kind of adapting to their environment, taking it in, and reacting to it. I know every time I feel like I’m forced into a corner it drastically changes what I’m doing and how I’m reacting, and something new comes out of it. So it’s not comfortable by any means, but I think in the end it can be an opportunity.”
Listen to my entire conversation with Jennifer Moss embedded here. The audio also features a Field Note with Kench Lott Weathers at Green Truck Pub talking about his Drive-Thru Art Box project in the parking lot of the restaurant called “die Existenz.”
Tune in to “Art on the Air” every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on WRUU 107.5 FM in Savannah, and streaming worldwide at www.wruu.org.
Art off the Air is a digital-only column that is posted every week on dosavannah.com as a companion piece to the WRUU 107.5 FM show “Art on the Air.”
Rob Hessler is an artist, host of the radio show Art on the Air on WRUU 107.5 FM Savannah, and Executive Director of Bigger Pie, a Savannah-based arts advocacy organization.