Picking up the Pieces

“Picking up the Pieces” is a patchwork and a reweaving of unexpected outcomes. It gathers up disappointments and wrong turns and reframes them, even beautifies them, allowing them to reach a potential they weren’t granted otherwise. Artmaking does not always dovetail so analogously with life-living, but when it does, you can be sure that the work is honest. In this case, it needs also to be called brave: the artist, Hannah Jenkinson, grappling with the interconnected transitions of a relationship, a home, and a business, has sewn her loose ends into something with which every viewer will relate — at least, those who have bumped up against the limitations of their own expectations.

HJ: When a project or anything in life doesn’t work out how you wanted or expected it to, can you make something beautiful out of all the pieces that feel like such a waste, physically, practically, and emotionally? The things that feel like the most waste emotionally are the things that I have grown the most from. The feelings I don’t want are the ones I have to look at the most. ‘Picking up the Pieces’ is a practical analogy for a spiritual practice.

You get to a certain point where you feel like you can turn around and look behind you at what happened, when you’re ready to face it and be okay with it. But it takes time to be open about being okay with things that are not how you want them to be.

I’ve been wanting to make Art, something alongside Fashion, for a long time — to be creative in a way that doesn’t have to have a specific outcome. For me, art is an expression of a feeling that someone has been moved by. So I asked myself, how do I express how I am feeling; how do I use this opportunity as a process for healing or sharing what other people might feel too? I haven’t used my work in this way before because I have been very focused on Fashion, and because expressing real feelings inevitably produces the vulnerability that comes with stepping outside of your safety zone.

But as a creative person, I’ve realized that I don’t want to limit myself by using only one form of expression. I have other ways of being creative, and only going down the fashion route ends up being a lot about the administration and minutia of getting stuff made, so there was less and less room to be open to the outcome. I missed making something for the joy of it or because I felt compelled to do it, and I was using my head way too much; how can I get the right price, how can I get this made, where’s the material going to come from, all these sorts of questions. I wanted to make stuff that I felt really excited about from a purely creative standpoint. I’m not leaving fashion behind, and I am sure they’ll feed back into each other, but I didn’t want to be so tied to a fashion schedule, because it can be really grueling.

I also wanted to take a look back at how I have made my journey through and with Fashion over the last few years, so I included a curated selection of garments made over the last 5 years. They still feel meaningful to me as a form of expression. 

The installation, on view through Oct. 6, 2018, includes both textile works and three-dimensional sculptures made from plants and threads. The textile hangings literally pick up and suspend from the ceiling unused materials left over from past projects. The plants reference natural elements along with man-made threads and sutures, and the combination conjures a sense of being bound, attached to a framework that shapes and controls us — perhaps society, circumstances, or both. Taken together, Hannah’s works constitute emergence from a very human process. From their making to their meaning, each summarizes a sequence of events, making tangible and approachable the concept of an aftermath.

Lara Wilson