Dawn Tomlinson, 2019/20 Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant Recipient

For current Jerome Fiber Artist Project Grant Recipient Dawn Tomlinson, this time of social distancing hasn’t been too much of a change from how she normally works. “When I’m creating, I always work alone. I can concentrate on the parts which require complex manipulations, or stitch as meditation during the repetitive parts.” She adds, “It is a formula which has worked for me for a long time. My most productive time is when I work solo.”

However, her search for inspiration is when she typically gets out and about. “Perusing books, magazines, and shelves of products is continually inspiring. It’s tactile. I like to pick things up, touch them, turn them around in my hand, and think about how I could use them.”

Right now, Dawn is intrigued by sequins. “They’ve caught my eye as an interesting fiber embellishment. Years ago, at a Bead and Button Convention, I bought some unusual sequins. Ever since, I’ve had my eye out for them, but I’ve been using them all — the cheap ones, the unusual ones, all of them.

The quarantine has introduced Dawn to new ways of staying in touch with other artists. “I didn’t even know what Zoom was until the quarantine, but now I’ve gotten several invitations to join online chats. My Facebook groups are reaching out to everyone and doing group projects while we are all in our homes. It’s fun and it feels connected.” She adds, “My best resources are people. Find a social media that you like, tap into it, and then it comes down to people.”

An insight that Dawn has gained during this time has been that, “Things happen, and we must be flexible during challenging obstacles. When I create a piece, my visualization is so perfect, but the materialization doesn’t always match that vision. The final creation is as close to that vision as possible, but it always seems to require an adjustment in my expectations or the construction. Adjustments, reformulations, or otherwise changing that path is easier for me if I simply accept it as part of the process.”

While the Jerome exhibition at Textile Center  has been pushed out due to COVID-19, Dawn continues to move forward with her project work. “We were supposed to install at the beginning of May, although the indefinite delay allows me more work time. I work on my pieces every day.” In addition, Dawn has been working on her submission to the “25 Million Stitches” project. “It’s a Public Engagement Art Installation representing a stitch for each of the estimated 25 million refugees worldwide. We were asked to register and then submit by the end of April. They are hoping for 2,000 entries to fulfill the goal of 25 million stitches. My piece is called There’s No Place Like Home.”

When the pandemic has eventually passed, Dawn is looking forward to connecting with her textile friends. “They are my kindred spirits, and I can’t wait to share our projects in person —  to feel the fibers under my fingers, and to celebrate with other fiber friends their accomplishments.”