a) Jennifer Mae Hill
a.k.a. Jenny Mae
q) Where do you live and work?
a) Columbia, South Carolina
q) How did you get started? How have you realized you wanted to become an artist?
a)I’ve always created. I started doing collage when I was six years old. I’ve been involved with theater since middle school. I met my husband when I was nineteen at a puppet theater. We would travel around the state doing puppet shows together. He is an artist and encouraged me to take my art a step further. He really nurtured me and gave me confidence to share my artwork with others. The first time I ever sewed anything was a sock monkey about eight years ago. It was the traditional kind, with the big red lips and red butt. I really enjoyed making it and decided to make some more messing around with the design. All my friends loved them and started asking to buy them. I ended up showing a set of ten in my second ever gallery show and they all sold. I realized then that I was on to something.
q) What materials do use and why?
a)I often use old clothes to make my fabric creations. I like the idea of recycling fabric, but I also like the memory that the garment holds. What the garment was often influences what it becomes. An old prom dress, a pair of comfy worn in pajamas, or a pink bunny suit from Fredrick’s of Hollywood, they all lend themselves to the final creation. And then there are the socks, they are all bought new and fresh because used socks kind of gross me out.
q) Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related?
a)My husband Mr. Lyon Forrest Hill, Jim Henson, Walt Disney, Mary Blair, Tim Burton, Cartoon Network, Hello Kitty, Japanese cute culture, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Sideshow freaks, Taxidermy, the color pink, cupcakes, crafty grannies, Alice in Wonderland, my kitties Pieces and Professor………
q) How do you dream up your wacky ideas? What is your creation process?
a) I keep a sketch book where I draw out ideas I have. But very often I just wing it.
Sometimes I’ll start something with out any real plan, it just happens organically. I
make Voodoo Dollies that come in there own decorated coffins, these I make assembly line style.
q) What haven’t you done yet that you definitely want to try some day?
a)I’d like to design and make clothes. I just learned how to use a sewing machine.
Lately I’ve had visions of great big fabric creatures that you can curl up on and take a nap. I’d also like to be a mother.
q) Are there ant contemporary artist that you love?
a)Liz Mcgrath, Mark Ryden, Seonna Hong, Dave Cooper, Chris Ware, Junko Mizuno, Camille Rose Garcia, Minza Wada, Miss Van, Fafi, Renee French……..
q) How long does it take you to finish a piece?
a)Any where from 30 minutes to 3 months.
q) What music, if any, do you like to have on while you’re working?
a)Dresden Dolls, Nina Simone, Fiona Apple. But to be honest, I mostly watch bad
cable TV and NetFlix while I work.
q) Do you do many art shows?
a)I do a few a year. Mostly local, although I’ve shown as far away as Italy.
q) Tell us about a recent dream you had?
a)Last night I dreamt I took my giant, beloved, five year old aloe plant to see a movie. But the theater was crowded so we couldn’t sit together. My plant was towards the front and I was in the back, and the whole time I was consumed with fear that someone would knock it over or spill their soda on it or something. I don’t remember what movie we went to see, I was too worried to enjoy it anyway.
q) What are you doing when you are not creating?
a)I wait tables at a locally owned restaurant. I’ve worked there for almost six years
and the people there are like my second family. I work for great people who take good care of me and are very supportive of my art career. I also do some acting as well. I also love to sleep.
q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss it when it’s sold?
a)I do get attached to my fabric creations, they’re like my little babies. But I love to
hear from people who have bought them, to hear what they’re lives are like now. For example, one creation recently spent the weekend on a farm with the little girl she now belongs to, and one woman drives around with her creation buckled in to the passenger’s side seat.
q) What new projects or exhibits are in your future?
a)I’ll be having a one night only trunk show at the Columbia Museum of Art in
October that I’m very excited about. And my creations will be appearing in the Dustin Hoffman/ Natalie Portman film “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” in November.
q) What is your favorite art related web site?
q) What is the strangest thing you have ever seen?
a)My husband and I attend puppetry festivals every summer, and I’ve seen some of
the most surreal, coolest stuff at those festivals.
q) What is the strangest thing you have ever done?
a)My husband and I had our honeymoon in Amsterdam. On the second night we
were there we some how ended up on stage during the audience participation section of a strip show. I won’t go into details, but it involved me, my husband, a stripper, a banana, a man in a monkey suit, and an audience full of Japanese business men.
q) Any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?
a)Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there. And just keep swimming.
q) Your contacts, e-mail, links