Wild Flowers: Interview with Artist Amy Supton

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Wild Flowers
“Wild Flowers” is a new exhibition at The Garage Art Center that celebrates the work of artist Amy Supton who is known for her dazzling sculptural wall hangings crafted with clay and fiber.



“Wild Flowers” is a new exhibition at The Garage Art Center that celebrates the work of artist Amy Supton who is known for her dazzling sculptural wall hangings crafted with clay and fiber. The exhibition will be on view from September 3 to September 26 with an opening reception between 4pm and 6pm on Saturday, September 4. A “Weave A Wildflower Ornament” workshop will take place on Sunday, September 26th, between 2pm and 4pm. The event is free and open to the public. Age 12 and older recommended. Registration required.

Amy Supton grew up in the Bronx, and spent her young adulthood in Detroit, Berkeley and Nashville. Since the 1980s, her work has been exhibited at botanical gardens, galleries, museums, and universities. Her pieces have been shown at festivals and fairs and have been collected by the Tennessee State Museum, the Chicago Standard Oil Building, and the Opryland Hotel. The intense and vibrant color, and the elaborate texture in her work make her pieces instantly recognizable, especially when they are paired with ceramics.

In 1984, Amy returned to her native New York City and taught creative arts to children with special needs in the New York Public School system for 25 years. She is also skilled in painting, pastel, and sculpture. She is now a full-time artist based in Queens, New York.

Amy recently discussed her art and more via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in becoming an artist?

Wild FlowersAmy Supton (AS): I didn’t decide to become an artist, I always was one. Not a fine artist, but a craftsperson. From the age of three or four I was interested in making things, especially textiles. I associated being an artist with being a woman as a result of being a consumer of Women’s Day magazine from the age of three. My mother purchased my own monthly copy of Woman’s Day magazine at the supermarket. Instead of using them for collage type experiences as three-year-olds are encouraged to do, I became preoccupied with “making”. I adored the images of weaving, sculpture, basketmaking, quilts, rug making, appliqué and embroidery. My first grade teacher taught me how to embroider and to do felt appliqué, and I never stopped.

MM: Why does the relationship of art and nature appeal to you?

AS: During different periods of my life my relationship between art and nature changed, depending on where I lived and what was available. When I am out in nature, I am aware of the physical sensation of the breeze, the heat, the chill, moisture, cold, the sounds of bugs and birds and breezes. If I’m lucky when I’m outside walking, I go into a trance, and I’m only aware of my footsteps and wherever my thoughts take me. Very often I solve created problems while I am out walking. In my Nashville years, I lived close to the countryside. I would ride to the country and gather materials from the roadside, to use for natural dying and to incorporate in weavings. Walking outdoors is meditative. I do it daily and I have for most of my adult life.

MM: How have the different places you lived influenced you creatively?

Wild FlowersAS: I lived in Berkeley, California in the early 1970s. The whole environment was very creative and expressive. It’s where I had the opportunity to take weaving classes in storefront studios within walking distance from my home and I participated in craft fairs, making and selling embroidered clothing.

In Nashville I had the opportunity to get a Masters degree in art. I was very active in the Handweavers Guild and in the Tennessee Artist Craftsman Association. I knew many other crafts people, I participated in many shows and craft fairs. I had a lot of opportunities to experiment with weaving and later with weaving and ceramics.

In New York it is more difficult to find other artists and craftspeople. I have found far fewer opportunities to work with other artists and to show my work. During the first 20 years that I lived in Flushing, I lived between The Queens Botanical Garden and Kissena Park. I walked laps around the park daily as exercise and I thought of that as my walking meditation.

The most significant part of my creative life in the past year and a half has been walking in the Chateau Garden. I walk in a 100-year-old garden in all seasons, and every day I gather photographs that inspired the watercolor and pastel painting that I do each day.

MM: When did you start to combine ceramics with textiles?

Wild FlowersAS: I moved to Nashville Tennessee in 1971, after my year of learning to weave, and had a very busy time raising three babies. My husband taught at a university and I was able to take classes at no charge. I started to study ceramics, at first with the intention of learning to throw pots. I had friends who were already potters at that time. Gradually I had enough credits to apply for the Master of Arts program. They didn’t have any fiber classes at all, and they had a very good ceramics program, so I just continued with ceramics. It was my own idea to combine weaving and clay. It was at that time I began making female imagery and I found that the clay was very conducive to doing that. I especially liked the tactile aspect of working with clay. I would make a ceramic piece and plan how to incorporate a weaving or other fiber technique. Each ceramic piece would be finished first and then the weaving would be made to match it. This was 1974-1976.

MM: What are your best memories from your years of teaching?

AS: I loved making big projects with the children. I made an art show with 35 quilts. I made parades where 85 children each had a self-made (with my help) costume. I made life size puppets and scenery with my students. I loved teaching, but part of the reason I retired from teaching was to have the opportunity to use my creativity for my own self-expression, no longer having to make up elaborate projects for little children to do every day.

MM: How did you find out about the garage art center and secure a show there?

Wild FlowersAS: I participated in a show for Artist members at Flushing Town Hall. I believe Stephanie Lee had hung that show. During the course of that exhibit Stephanie approached me and told me about her new Garage Art Center. She invited several people including me to have solo shows in the new Garage Art Center before it had actually opened. When Stephanie was beginning to organize the gallery, she invited a group of artists to her home, to enable us to connect and to see her work and her beautiful space. Shortly after that she visited me at my studio and made some selections of work to put in my show. I had originally wanted to have the show in May, but then Covid started in March. Some of the artists went ahead and had their shows virtually, but I felt that the point of my work is how tactile it is, and I thought that it wouldn’t come across well virtually. I want people to be able to see the actual texture. Because of my health and my husband’s age I was afraid to even come out to hang a show.

MM: How many pieces are you putting in the show? Which are your favorites.?

AS: I have 10 pieces in the show. Seven of them are mixed media ceramic and weaving. Three of them are sculptural weavings. My favorites, right now, are the mixed media piece called Shady Grove and a sculptural fiber piece called Cailleach, a winter goddess. I like Shady Grove because it is enhanced by textures and techniques beyond weaving on a loom. It includes knotless netting (which appears similar to crochet, but it is made without a hook,) and coiling, a technique for making baskets. It has many shades of purple yarn and many textures. Of all the pieces in the show, it is the most realistic image of a flower. My current favorite piece is the most recent. Cailleach was made after I made the pieces that represent wilted flowers and aging. I intended to use up all of the white and white-ish material that I had collected over more than 50 years: my history. It uses so many textures, so many different kinds of knots, such as looping, soumak and rya. It feels like one can’t resist touching it. To me that is very sensual.

Wild FlowersMM: How did you decide on your workshop project?

AS: It is similar to projects that I used when I was a teacher. This project is like a miniature of my largest piece and I feel like I can share a little bit of my method with anyone who is interested in giving it a try. The piece is a small ornament that can be worn on a piece of clothing or hung on a holiday tree.

MM: What are the highlights of your career so far?

AS: I am very pleased to be having a show now. It’s been a very long time since I had a solo show. Many years ago, I had a piece purchased by the Tennessee state museum which was exhibited and catalogued, and that was very exciting. I had a few similar experiences back then. In recent years I participated in shows with two groups that I belong to. One is the WIA: Women in the Arts Foundation. The group just completed a Fiftieth Anniversary Show at the Ceres Gallery. The other is the TSGNY, the Textile Study Group of New York. I had a recent piece selected in their Gold Standard show. It was very satisfying to receive a special mention from the juror of that show.

MM: What upcoming projects do you have?

Wild FlowersAS: I’m thinking of making a private show in the garden of my landmark building to show the artwork that I did during the pandemic years. It reflects the work that I did all year. It’s all very pretty with fabulous colors and images of plant life and birds. It shows the busyness of the garden. It does not show any of the misery of this COVID-19 year. I have been thinking about getting older and what will happen to my collection of work as I get older, or when I am no longer here. I have been trying to figure this out for a couple of years, and maybe I’ll continue to work on that. Some of my recent pieces were about getting older. I also hope to find a venue where I can show both watercolor painting and weaving in the same exhibit.

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For more information about the exhibition, please visit

http://www.garageartcenter.org/exhibition-single-amy.html

To schedule visit or register for the workshop, please use this link  https://garageartcenter.as.me/schedule.php

The Garage Art Center, Inc.
26-01 Corporal Kennedy Street, Bayside, NY 11360
Due to the pandemic, gallery viewing is by appointment only.

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