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12 Questions: S.D. Evans

1.Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I was born in Pennsylvania but have moved around a lot as an adult. I now live in Seattle with my husband and two daughters. Moving from the East Coast the Pacific Northwest has been a big influence in my work.

2. What first inspired you to begin working with textiles?

Growing up in Berks County, PA meant growing up around Mennonite and Amish communities. There were handmade quilts and textiles everywhere: markets, shops, restaurant decor, etc. When I was an undergrad at a small rural state school in PA, I decided I wanted to learn how to make these beautiful functional art pieces. My love of textiles has always been coupled with the idea of their utiliarianism.

3.What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

I have a small studio (about the size of bedroom) in a shared workspace in my neighborhood, near where my kids go to school. It’s a work in process itself but it’s very convenient. Balancing work, art, and family is an important challenge.

4.What are some of your rituals in the studio to get the momentum going?

I spend a lot of time writing through ideas and projects before I get started on a quilt. Cleaning is also important. It’s hard for me to focus if my workspace isn’t organized.

5. How do you overcome ‘failure’?

I try to approach failure as part of the process.There are so many steps involved in making a quilt and there are just as many opportunities for mistakes and failures. My only way out is to embrace that side of the process (my seam ripper and I have a very close relationship) and working through them. However, when a piece just isn’t working at all, I tend to set it aside and come back to it later - often to repurpose the fabric for new pieces. The key to my overcoming failure is to keep moving and keep working. 

6. What is the most inspiring place you have been to?

I am fascinated by the concept of Baudelaire’s flâneur figure, an explorer of urban life; I love how one can be a part of a large city and yet be an anonymous observer of it. I’ve lived in Philadelphia and New York and have loved them both equally - although for very different reasons. And perhaps because I’ve lived in these cities - even though I’ve been to many others - they are the ones that inspire me the most. Living in Seattle, a city surrounded by so much nature - mountains, lakes, and so many, many trees (and in the city!) - challenges me to be inspired in a new way.

7. Do you have any other interests or hobbies?

I do a lot of reading and writing.

8. Do you collect anything?

With two young kids, I try to keep my things to a minimum but I’ve grown fond of ceramics lately. I have three small pieces. That’s as close to a collection that I have - other than books.

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

Oh, this is a very hard question. Most of my life has revolved around reading and writing (many years ago I was a high school English teacher and I have a Master’s in creative writing). I’ve tried to narrow it down to different influences at different stages of my life. 

Daybook - Anne Truitt

The White Album - Joan Didion

Almost anything by William Faulkner

10. What are the biggest challenges you have faced as an artist?

Balancing work, art, and family. 

11. Who/What are influences for your work?

One of the most important influences on my work were the traditional Amish quilts I saw when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. Whenever I am unsure of my work or its direction, I always go back to those quilts to reset. However, I am continually inspired by other contemporary textile artists: Erin Wilson, Basil Kincaid, Lindsay Stead, Meg Callahan, Maura Ambrose, Erin M. Riley, Amanda Valdez, Kathryn Clark, just to name a few - there’s so much good work out there.

12. What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a commission for three quilts, which have taken me back to my Pennsylvania roots. It has been such a joy for me to return my childhood memories of place as well as continued research of Amish quilts and culture.


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