One of a Kind Show


Mixing It Up: Get to Know These One of a Kind Makers

03 . 02 . 2023

"Mix and Match" is the rule of life for these four Spring 2023 show makers whose work is inspired by a blend of their interests, passions, and experiences.

Sarah Spencer of Io the Alien is a Chicago based artist, teacher, and music radio personality known for blending her passion for music with textile art by creating large pieces inspired by songs.

What led you to create your unique work?

Sarah: One day I decided to take a class in quilting from one of my colleagues at Lillstreet Art Center and I became hooked! My colleague very quickly recognized my inclination toward experimentation and deviating from a pattern, and suggested I explore improvisational quilting. I have since studied under a number of prolific quilters and textile artists, and have formed my own visual style.

What inspires you?

Sarah: Being a DJ here in Chicago at our local independent music station CHIRP Radio, I'm exposed to many hours of new music. I often take inspiration for my color palette, or sense of movement in my pieces from a song I've heard. There is quite often a feeling or energy in a piece of music that I will attempt to capture with textiles.

Is there anything you are especially excited to bring to this year's Spring Show?

Sarah: I'm really excited to bring my "Album Covers" to the show. Due to my process when composing my large quilts, I often end up with intricate textile compositions that don't make their way into the finished product. Recognizing their beauty, I'm now offering these miniature compositions for sale. My "Album Covers" are one-of-a-kind pieces of textile art, mounted onto archival 12” x 12” acid-free mat board. And since it’s the size of a standard vinyl LP, framing options are easy! They look great on their own, or you can pick up multiples to create your own unique composition.

What does handmade mean to you? Do you have a most cherished handmade possession?

Sarah: There has always been something I've loved about seeing the hand of the maker in objects. As a kid, my parents were tremendously creative people, though they never would have described themselves that way. My father enjoyed needlework, drawing, and working in stained glass, while my mom was a prolific seamstress. I still cherish a stained glass jewelry box my father gave me when I was about 10. For me handmade means foregoing the manufacturing process, and instead creating and imbuing an item with an aspect of the human spirit.

Isabelle Gougenheim uses fabric as a medium to express her creativity and passion. Her sketches, which are a fusion of abstract expressionism and real-life imagery, are brought to life on luxurious silk and modal fabric, creating wearable works of art that are both multi-faceted and multi-functional.

What is your background?

Isabelle: I have been an artist all my life. I did my first mural in high school, and it is still there after all these years. After receiving my Master's in Art and Anthropology, I spent six months in the desert of North Africa to explore the Berber culture, and after my trip, I worked for an art gallery in Strasbourg, France. I then moved to the United States to work in the luxury furniture design world. In 2019 I decided to become a full-time artist and fashion designer.

What do you try to convey through your work?

Isabelle: Behind my artworks lies the idea of freedom. By associating bright colors, imagery from faraway places, and strokes inspired by rhythms, I aim to create unique landscapes that will transport the viewer. In our always faster-paced society, it can be challenging to take a step back and feel, instead of merely observing.

Is there anything you're especially excited to bring to this year's Spring Show?

Isabelle: My new capsule collection that features 10 new scarves and pays tribute to the groundbreaking movement of the French New Wave. It's a thought-provoking line of accessories that reflects on the theme of freedom and tackles fundamental topics of the 21st century, such as our relationship with nature, artificial intelligence, and pop culture.

What does handmade mean to you? Do you have a most cherished handmade possession?

Isabelle: For me, handmade mostly means passion. I have several paintings at home from artists I really admire, and they feel like the epitome of handmade to me.

Kelly Jacobson's jewelry is influenced by her background as a former sculptor and installation artist. To create her sculpturally-oriented pieces, she utilizes computer aided design, 3D printing, CNC machining and, other digital tools, creating the perfect balance of what she loves about traditional metalsmithing and new technologies.

Why did you become an artist?

Kelly: It wasn't a choice. It chose me. My parents are both scientists and had strong interests in science but I always came back to art. I have an unrelenting compulsion to make things.

What is your creative process?

Kelly: I’m an introvert, so I think things start in my brain and work their way out as opposed to a direct and obvious visual influence. I think my work and art is the most immersive way of thinking for me. It’s always about solving a problem, even if it’s just a visual one. I love patterns and the way something wraps around a form, the way it breaks and/or opens up the shape-- the mapping and morphing of a design is endlessly fascinating to me. It’s like a language, but you get to wear it so it makes the whole process fun.

What does handmade mean to you?

Kelly: Handmade means to impart the maker into the object. I am an integral part of the end result. My marks, my mistakes, my desires, my intentions, my process, and my tools are all uniquely recorded in each object I create.

Kenneth Herren's pieces begin with a very gestural, expressive and uniquely colorful underpainting, a process that brings him back to the brink of childlike joy. Then, using a combination of acrylic paint and ground up pumice he creates numerous layers producing a bold, colorful, space defining piece of fine art.

What led you to become an artist?

Kenneth: One must follow their heart and knowing there was an artist within, I worked at freeing the inner aspects of my creative nature. Years of experimentation with different mediums, styles and processes have led me to doing the thing that feeds my soul. Life itself, with all its ups, downs and ironic twists has finally led to where I can call myself an "artist".

Tell us about your work.

Kenneth: This collection of work is inspired by a childhood memory where on an otherwise ordinary day, a semitrailer carrying hundreds of 5 gallon cans of paint lost its load on my neighborhood street. As a child of six, the array of color, sticky texture, and fragrance ushered in my very first visceral experience of joy. Heralded by adult prudence to “reduce property damage,” city workers quickly heaped sand onto the larger than life abstract painting in an effort to wick up the paint. My vista of pleasure was altered and I felt my first pangs of constraint. But what also remained were little peeks into the colorful swirls of paint that had captured my childlike wonder, lending a new perspective on emerging possibilities.

Is there anything you're especially excited to bring to this year's Spring Show?

Kenneth: When considering my body of work, I am sometimes asked "which one is your favorite?" My immediate response is "the last one I finished." I am excited to bring the freshest, mostly never seen work which are the truest examples of my current "state" as an artist.

What does handmade mean to you?

Kenneth: Handmade is where I get to show my talent. From sourcing the materials for my paintings, cutting and joining custom sized stretcher bars, stretching my own canvas, creating the painting using bold and unique color combinations to cutting, joining, and framing my pieces for gallery ready one but me has touched my finished pieces.

Meet these talented makers and hundreds more at the One of a Kind Spring Show, April 28-30!