Cold Coffee with Joanne Kinsey
An experienced needle artist and teacher of many years, Joanne takes a few minutes to answer these artsy questions. Keep on reading til your coffee grows cold and feel free to recommend future interviewees!
[J] Have you always been a creative, artistically inclined person?
[JK] I have always loved creating things and doing projects. I consider myself a creative thinker and creative with projects. Textiles, weaving, and needlework have long been my passion.
[J] How were you introduced to the arts?
[JK] When I was a child my maternal grandmother taught me how to knit. When I was in 8th grade my parents bought me a set of knitting needles and I still use them today. In my last year of high school I was able to major in art and home economics and I was able to explore various arts in more depth. I was very fortunate to have excellent teachers in both of those areas. They allowed their students to choose independent projects.
[J] Did your family recognize your talent? How did they foster it…or hinder it?
[JK] My family has always encouraged my love of arts and crafts projects. I remember as a child they would often have me show my projects to my grandparents. My family supported my desire to become an art educator by helping me attend college for that purpose. In fact, my father basically taught me to sew (both of his parents were tailors) and later, while I was in college I taught my mother to sew!
[J ]Did you have role models or highly inspirational figures in the art field that you looked up to?
[JK] As I learn more about various needle arts I look to see who is publishing books and patterns.
[J] When did you discover your favorite media? Is your favorite medium the “money maker?”
[JK] Over the years my favorite has settled into quilting, knitting and counted cross-stitch. Although I started sewing at an early age, I didn’t start quilting until I was older. When I was teaching at Glassboro High School in the early ‘80’s I taught cross-stitch and quilting. I quickly learned both skills and instantly fell in love with them. I spent many years sewing (making clothing, curtains, pillows, & blankets for people as a money maker. It was challenging and fun to create items for other people because it gave me opportunities to work with new fabrics and techniques. I have sewn clothing for a handicapped woman, a child equestrian, wedding gowns, lots of bridesmaids dresses, christening outfits for boys and girls, coats, and ladies suits. My most challenging project was sewing 80 blazers for a middle school band! I subcontracted with a few friends to help make the jackets to meet the deadline! In recent years I knitted wool purses and felted them, added embelishments then sold the bags to friends, neighbors, and even at a few arts fairs/festivals.
[J] What type of art education did you receive? Public school, extracurricular, college level?
[JK] I was an art & home economics major in high school, then entered college (Glassboro State College, now Rowan University) as an art education major. Years later I graduated from Drexel University with a Master’s Degree in Home Economics. Since then I have accumulated more than 60 post-graduate credits by taking graduate courses related to education
[J]Do you do art full time or do you have a day job?
[JK]I work full time so needle arts is a hobby. In retirement I hope to focus on a variety of projects and have time to complete them!.
[J]Artists that go professional frequently turn to a new hobby or interest as a form of expression or stress relief. Has work taken the fun out of art for you? How have you coped?
[JK] I still love needle arts and use it as a stress reliever! When I get too caught up in work I find a few hours of sewing works perfectly to get me back into balance.
[J] What do you like to do when you need inspiration? How would you cope with artists block?
[JK] When I see interesting fabric that would be appropriate for a quilt for a family member or friend I am inspired to get to work on the project. Artists block….hmmm…I have so many projects lined up to be done and so little time to do them, I don’t know if would ever have artists block.
[J] Where do you see yourself in 5 or even 10 years?
[JK] I expect to continue working on various projects. My legacy to my nieces/nephews and children of close friends has been to make a quilt for each one of themJ In ten years I will probably be retired and stitching items for friends and family, just as I have done for most of my life.
[J] What do you get out of your work, from a personal standpoint?
[JK] I get stress relief and the satisfaction that I am able to give people hand-made gifts as much as possible. I think giving a hand-made gift is more special than just buying something for a person.
[J] What advice would you give to aspiring artists, especially those with an interest in your particular media?
[JK] I would tell them to keep exploring within their passion and try to continually expand their skills.
Joanne Kinsey, Family & Community Health Sciences Assistant Professor for Rutgers University, and former Family & Consumer Sciences educator, specializes in the development of workplace wellness programs and healthy lifestyle/wellness programs for students and their families. Joanne loves to work on a variety of needle arts and quilting projects in her spare time. Spending a few minutes (or better yet hours) working on a project or quilt provides life’s balance!