12 Questions: Jen Broemel

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We are really excited to bring on Jen Broemel as a part of our gallery! Her brightly colored textiles instantly won us over and we are very grateful to be working with her. We hope you enjoy her work and words.


"My intention is to inspire others to look at the world around them more carefully, more mindfully, to see the extraordinary in the discarded, to notice the beauty in the mundane.   And if they don't see it, to show them it is possible to look at things in a new and different way.  How we see the world shapes our lives, our relationships, our actions.  Let us notice the miracles of every day, every stitch. . . EVERY. SINGLE. ONE." —Jen Broemel

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

I love to read about art and creativity, especially anything that’s purpose is to convince us that we are all artists if we want to be. It helps me stay motivated. It’s like a pep talk. It began with ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, and more recently ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield is another favorite that I refer to often. Another book that has really impacted my life unrelated to art specifically is ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer. This book really helped me learn to see and accept what is, which has changed so much of what I find important, and how I look at, and what I pursue in my life. It is a bit woo woo, but I drank the kool aid and am much better for it.


What are you reading or watching right now?

I don’t watch too much tv, it is all too violent. Currently I am reading Mark Nepo’s ‘Drinking from the River of Light’ which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoyed The Artist’s Way. I also just started Jerry Saltz ‘How to Be an Artist’, and Sarah Urist Green ‘You Are an Artist’.


2. What are you currently working on? Are you able to create during the

pandemic?

I am drowning my pandemic anxiety in creating, a lot of what I am working on right now

is directly related to quarantine. I am making a collaborative quilt where I asked people

to create a block to contribute to an ‘Interconnectedness’ Quilt. Working collaboratively

like this was something that I was tinkering with for awhile and I just woke up inspired

one day to send the invitation out via social media and have had more than 75 people

from around the world agree to make a block. I am also taking part in The 100 Day

Project and this is the first year that I am putting my daily makes together and it has led

me to figure out how to experiment in a way that will help me with something that I was

stuck on. It has been a win win for me creatively to be home with my family and be able

to focus more fully on it, but the anxiety of the unknown is real and I am very grateful to

have my art to keep me distracted from worry.


3.How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

Having the understanding that failures are steps to success is a gift. I can’t be sure exactly

where I first learned this but when it comes to creating it is something that has led me to

experiment and explore and to not be afraid to mess up. Not everything is going to turn out the way I want or work the way I think, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn't be putting in the time trying. Much of the things I regularly do in my process came from trying to correct or hide a mistake. It has led me to try different processes and that has led me to eliminate a lot of the unenjoyable parts of what I was doing. There are a lot of rules in quilt making and failure has led me to learnto accept the imperfections. I don’t really have a favorite failure but am grateful to not be afraid of them.


4. What is your most unusual habit?

I always stop and notice 11:11, and all the single digit times of the day. I believe they are a good omen so I always stop what I am doing and honor that.


5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it

be and why?

Sister Corita Kent, although she was a printmaker I just love her work, her message, her

courage, her timelessness. . .


6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office?

My hands. Definitely.


7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do

to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

I am always asking myself ‘What if. . .?’ I am always trying new things, in new ways. I know art has a cycle to it and I accept that cycle so I accept the funk, but I still create, everyday

something, in some way. I have piles of this stuff that I’ve made, sometimes I come back to it, but rarely do and that is ok.


8. What do you see as the artist’s role through this difficult time?

It is always the artist’s role to express what is important to them as honestly as possible. It is

important work that we all should be focused on. Show the world what you want it to be. This is hope at its finest and I think sharing this is even more important in these unsettled times.


9. Do you collect anything?

I try not to. But books, lots of books. . .


10. What words of advice would you give to artists during this time?

Be easy with yourself. If you are having trouble creating, don't stress about it, it is a crazy time and just be easy on yourself. Also, if you are enjoying creating don’t feel guilty about it. Do what you can and need to do to just accept this unknown situation we are in as best you can.


11. In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or

studio practice?

Realizing that I am an artist is relatively new to me and knowing this and searching for the way I want to explore it has changed and improved the direction of my life in all facets, and I am forever grateful.


12. Share an inspiring image.

This is a picture mistakenly taken at The Blanton Museum in Ellsworth Kelly’s

Austin. I love this space. And find great inspiration in this accident of a

photograph. It exemplifies what I love about art: improvisation, color, light. . .

add architecture and it is pure inspirational perfection.




Broemel's work is available on ARTSY as a part of the ongoing online exclusive exhibition: Small Works. For more information about the work above visit ARTSY: https://www.artsy.net/artist/jen-broemel James May Gallery 219 State Street Algoma, WI 54201 HOURS: CLOSED for the safety of all. Visit our Artsy page or feel free to contact us! mail@jamesmaygallery.com 262-753-3130