Joanne Weis is a textile artist in Louisville Kentucky whose work can be found in numerous private collections internationally. After retiring from a full career as a social worker, she graduated with a Masters Degree from the University of Louisville Fine Arts program. In addition to creating fiber art, she juries and curates shows, teaches and promotes appreciation of fiber and textile art within the community.
Originally from Providence Rhode Island, I was raised in a dense Irish Catholic Immigrant community where fabric was what you purchased to make clothing - functional and economical, style having little to do with it. My dad was the artist in our home and, though he came home from World War II to a "day job", he used his GI bill to go to the Rhode Island School of Design for some courses. He was my muse, spending time teaching me perspective and drawing and the OK-ness of finding the quiet space to make art. I considered applying to RISD but didn't - we couldn't afford it and I hadn't had opportunities to develop a portfolio for admission. Through a set of coincidences, I found a job I loved - social work with Child Welfare. With a great scholarship from Washington University, I moved to St. Louis to get my Masters Degree in Social Work, met my husband, married, moved to his hometown of Louisville, had a family and moved through a very rewarding career in human services. Through the years, I remembered my Dad and always tried to squeeze in some form of art making - nursery rhymes in cut paper for my children's walls, murals as they got older; being "artist in residence" in their schools and scout troops; making costumes and set designs as my daughter moved into an interest in theater; making banners and other liturgical pieces for our parish.
In the late 90's, a project at our church started me on a journey that hasn't ended. To accomplish what we envisioned for that year's Lenten liturgies, I needed to figure out how to dye fabric, think outside the box and produce a piece for the wall. When I found white silk on sale at our local fabric store, of course I had to buy the bolt. Investigating dyes led me to the fabulous on-line resource for fiber artists, Dharma Trading Company. After finishing the church project, I still had supplies for a year and began the quest for developing my own voice as an artist. Since that time, I have continued to learn, studying with some marvelous textiles artists and, in retirement, returning to the University of Louisville to get my MA in Fine Arts with a focus on fiber.
As a textile artist, I start with white fabric and cord, then develop the piece using a variety of dyeing and printing techniques. The final layer is typically stitched with dyed cords, adding detail and texture. I get excited about every phase of the creative process – choosing and researching the subject matter, selecting the fiber, experimenting with techniques to achieve the look I want, handling, even smelling the silk, linen, hemp or other fabric, discovering new colors with dye, making composition and design decisions as the work grows, stitching into the cloth, touching the embroidered textures of the finished piece – all of these are thrilling and fulfilling. Most rewarding is when this art graces someone’s wall.
I am very conscious of my place in the continuum of life cycles, my position between ancestors and grand children. My recent work demonstrates that awareness by portraying my view of the links between the earth’s environment and the spiritual. With this in mind, respect for and celebration of the world we were given is the story I want to record, still doing what I did in our parish years ago - figuring out how to dye fabric and thinking outside the box to produce a piece of textile art for the wall.
Selected invitational and juried exhibitions
In God We Trust, Hera Gallery, Wakefield RI
Life on the River, Portland Museum, Louisville KY
Twisted Fibers. Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Gallery, Pawtucket RI
The Poetry Project, Gallery 104, LaGrange KY
Kimono Challenge. Asiatic Institute, Louisville KY
Fiber Biennial. ArtSeed, New Albany Indiana
My Watershed; invitational, Waterways Alliance, Louisville, KY
Elements; solo show, Fibre Arts Gallery, Madeira Park, British Columbia, Canada
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show; Gallery 104, LaGrange, KY
Healing the Earth; solo show at St. Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN
Healing the Earth; solo show at Earth and Spirit Center, Louisville, KY
My Watershed (invitational) Claypool Young Gallery, Morehead, KY
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, Actors Theater, Louisville, KY
Governor's Derby Exhibit. Capitol Rotunda, Frankfort, KY
Music Scenes, Kentucky Arts Council, Traveling Show: Kentucky Crafted the Market, Lexington; Whitley County Community At Center, Williamsburg KY; Norton Center for the Arts, Danville, KY.
LAFTA Exhibition. Patio Gallery, Louisville, KY
Stitch, A Regional Contemporary Art Textile Exhibition. Claypool-Young Gallery, Morehead, KY.
A Lively Experiment, Handweaver's Guild of American Convergence Conference, RI Convention Center, Providence, RI
Governor's Derby Exhibit, State Capital, Frankfort, KY
LAFTA in Lace, Gallery 104, LaGrange, KY
Bluegrass Biennial, Claypool Young Gallery, Morehead, KY
Harvest Moon, Art League of Oldham County, LaGrange KY (Awarded first place)
Fabulous Fibers II, John James Audubon State Park, Henderson, KY
A Thread Runs Through It, Polvino Family Gallery, Nicholasville, KY
Got Jazz, Janet Carson Gallery, Eau Claire WI
These Thy Gifts, Textile Art Inspired by Wendell Berry. Solo Show, St. Catharine College, Springfield, Kentucky
7Stitch: Contemporary Textiles from Kentucky and Surrounding States, Claypool Young Art Gallery, Morehead, Kentucky
Artists in our Midst, Kaviar Forge Gallery, Louisville, KY
LAFTA Exhibition at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, New Albany IN
Making it Now, Cressman Center for Visual Arts, University of Louisville, KY
About Face, Kentucky Artisan Center, Berea, KY
Rooted in the Earth, Huff Gallery, Spalding University, Louisville, KY
LAFTA at the Water Tower, Louisville Visual Art Association Gallery, Louisville, KY
Psalms as Ancient Poetry, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Louisville Kentucky
Surface Design Association Kentucky Chapter - Invitational Show, Morehead KY
The Psalms, Olive Tree Arts, Evansville IN
Textiles in a Tube, Riverworks Gallery, Greenville SC
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, The Patio Gallery, Louisville, KY.
Fiber Invitational, Berea Arts Council, Berea, KY
Holy Ground, Thesis show, Cressman Center, Louisville, KY
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, Actors Theater of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Earthworks, Carnegie Center for Art and History, New Albany IN
Off the Grid, Student Show, Exhibition sponsored by SDA as part of its annual conference, Kansas City, MO. Selected for "Award of Excellence".
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, Embroiderer’s Guild of America, Museum and Resource Center, Louisville, KY.
At the River’s Edge, Louisville Visual Art Association, Water Tower, Louisville, KY.
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, The Patio Gallery, Louisville, KY.
The Dinner Works, Louisville Visual Art Association, Water Tower, Louisville, KY.
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, Strider Gallery, Morehead, KY.
Material Witness, Physical Presence, Living Arts and Science Center, Lexington, KY.
New Lessons – New Work, Hite Institute, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.
River City Fiber Artists show, The Patio Gallery, Louisville, KY.
Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists show, Actors Theater of Louisville, Louisville KY.
Fiberworks, Kentucky Artisan Center, Berea, KY.
Spiritual Expression, Exhibition sponsored by HGA as part of Convergence 2006, Grand Rapids, MI.
Others dating to 2001
- MA, Fine Arts, focus on fiber; University of Louisville, KY; 2010.
- Art Cloth Mastery Program, with Jane Dunnewold, 2009, ArtCloth Studio, San Antonio, TX.
- MSW, Washington University St. Louis, MO.
- BA English and Education, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI.
- Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists, Past President
- Surface Design Association of America
- Studio Art Quilt Associates