Take a minute to meet our textiles artist, Amy Taylor, and she’ll have you at “hello.” Amy’s enthusiasm for art and science (her father is a professor of Evolutionary Biology at UCLA) is absolutely captivating. She’s grown up exploring artificial life and population genetics with her dad (traveling to all continents but one). Over the years, she’s connected her knowledge of math and science to her passion for art. “Because,” she says, “you absolutely cannot have one without the other.”
For Amy, art and science collide particularly in her textiles and natural dye work. If you have the chance to meet her, or take one of her classes, you’ll be better for it. (Also, ladies, you may want to hold off on underwear purchases until her new line comes out.) In the mean time, get your aesthetic fix on her Instagram feed (with seriously dialed-in nail designs via artist Ashley Crowe aka @AstroWifey) and read more about her below.
Describe your road to Chicago.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, though I moved around a bit before settling in Chicago. I started college at a liberal arts university in Washington, D.C. then studied abroad for a year in Madrid and Florence. I transferred to SAIC, a choice made on instinct, and got my BA in Visual and Critical Studies, focusing in textiles.
What is the best advice you ever received from an instructor or mentor?
The best advice I ever received came from one of my co-workers in Textiles, Jordana Robinson, during one of the monthly Textile Potluck Critiques. She said that when we feel like we have come full circle in a project or practice, and it seems like we are in the exact place we started, it is important to remember that we’re not on a track, but on the threads of a screw. So instead of running around in circles, we are actually spiraling, and growing upward.
What are your favorite classes to teach at Lillstreet?
My favorite classes to teach at Lillstreet are definitely the natural dye classes. I am constantly blown away by how creative my students practice in these classes- the first day there’s often some trepidation, and people (myself included) are often overwhelmed at understanding how all this stuff works. While there are definitely some technical rules that apply, one of the really exciting aspects of natural dyes is that no matter how experienced, and knowledgeable you become, no two natural dyes will ever be exactly the same! I’ve learned that so much of being a successful natural dyer is accepting the wabi sabi elegance of the practice.
What do you appreciate about the Lillstreet community?
One of the aspects I value most are the incredible humans I get to interact with every day. I get to meet the most interesting people, who are passionate, brilliant, hard working, and eloquent, in the staff, students, and friends. I feel constantly challenged and supported by the people I am surrounded with at Lillstreet.
How would you describe your work?
My work is an intersection of art, alchemy, and technique. I am very inspired by the female form, and social mores. Through my practice, I am exploring how to inspire connections and confidence within my audience.
What emotion do you hope your work evokes from viewers?
My immediate answer is that as long as an emotion is evoked, then my work is a success, the more extreme, the better. In a perfect world, I would like for my work to contribute to a viewer feeling less isolated in their life- that no matter what emotion they are experiencing, it is a universal feeling and they are somehow connected to someone else.
What/who has been an inspiration to your work?
Holy smokes, this is a big question.
Stylistically, Edward Gorey, John K., Michael Hussar, early 90’s cartoons (Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters,). I would describe my work as Edward Gorey line work with Ren & Stimpy water colors.
Also…children’s books are an incredible influence for me. Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, Maurice Sendak, Stephen Gammell, George Quasha, and Impressionism. Some standout instructors, both academic and life include, Akemi Cohn, Victoria Vesna, Nora Renick-Rinehart, Elsa Sanchez Diaz (Taller Teñido a Mano,) Maud Lavin, Sarah Wagner, my high school math and art teachers (Charles Garcia, and John Park) Billy Craven, and my amazing community of friends and family.
As an artist and/or instructor, what is an accomplishment(s) you’re most proud of?
As an artist/instructor, I’m always so proud when students take what they’ve learned in my classes and apply this knowledge and technique in their free time. Natural dyes are one of my greatest passions, so watching students catch this obsession is always very rewarding.
Academically, I’m very proud of papers I’ve written and co-written. One I presented at San Diego Comic Con in 2010, Violence in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and another was published in Turkey Red Journal earlier this year, Art at the Edge of Chaos: Shibori and Indigo.
What kind of projects are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on starting my business, Ms. Amy Taylor LLC, to dye and sew a line of naturally dyed underwear for women. My mission is to create a line of undergarments that contribute to women feeling beautiful, confident, and comfortable.
Last but not least?
In addition to natural dyes, I love illustrating, screenprinting, skiing, The Simpsons and avocados.
(We mean…who doesn’t?)
Portrait Photo Credit: Nora Renick-Reinhart