Culture Maker: Weaver Savannah Jubic
Savannah Jubic is a weaver and installation artist based in Chicago. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Jubic is a creative programming assistant at Johalla Projects in Chicago and teaches weaving to the elderly. Jubic volunteers with a group called Committed Knitters teaching knitting and crochet at Cook County Jail on the weekends.
Savannah and I were both in school at the same time, while I was recieving my Master’s degree she was an undergraduate student. I knew her to be from the other tribe; that is, I was in the print tribe of the Fiber Department and she was a weaver. Both very different skill sets, students tend to move towards one camp rather than dive into both crafts. I knew she was a devoted artist because weaving takes so much patience and commitment and I would see her in the studio all the time.
It was only later, once we were both out of school that I was looking to enlist the help of an accomplished weaver to make a custom border for my stair runner at the Lake Forest Showhouse. Savannah was recommended to me by several colleagues and I was happy to meet her again and hire her to make the staircase shine.
Last May, Relativity Textiles was invited to be at part of the Lake Forest Showhouse, one of the remaining showcases for interior designers in the suburbs of Chicago. It was an incredible experience full of great connections and networking. Our space turned out beautifully with many thanks to my collaborator Claire Staszak from Centered by Design. It has always been important to me to support the robust community of local artists in makers in what we do at RT, and the Lake Forest Showhouse was no exception. Our Arabian Nights wallpaper in Parchment was designed specifically for this showcase. Featured in our space was also a rare antique Iranian runner sourced online, Unimode Woodworking created the fabulous mirrored doors, It’s Oksana created the draperies, Stark Carpet generously donated the sisal carpet for the staircase.
We asked Savannah to give us a little bit of an in-depth interview about her process and inspiration. Read on for her answers.
RT: What advice do you have for other female artists and makers?
SJ: Don’t get too caught up in the work others think you should be making, or the process others go through to make their own work. Trust in your own ideas and process. While I was still in school I went through a couple years where I really struggled with motivation to make work and had a great deal of anxiety surrounding the entire making process. I later realized I was trying to structure my making process based off of what I saw in others and advice I had been given, and that was stopping ideas and projects from developing naturally.
RT: What drives and motivates you?
SJ: I think the arts serve as a generator for social change and I try to take part in that as much as I can. I think a lot of my involvement in the arts, both in my practice and my jobs, is in an effort to bridge artwork and community.
RT: What is your work about? How does that relate to who you are?
SJ: My work is primarily based in labor-intensive gestures as a form of anxious compensation. I work with the idea seen frequently in religion and fairy tales that if one could just try hard enough or give enough of oneself, some great danger or loss could be avoided. Working in fiber and installation is important for me in the metaphors I work with, as they so directly involve the body in every little detail, truly embedding the effort (and sometimes desperation) I put into my pieces.
“[The artworks] so directly involve the body in every little detail, truly embedding the effort (and sometimes desperation) I put into my pieces”
I believe making this type of work relates back to my own struggles with anxiety and mental health issues, and feelings that I could always be doing more for those around me. While I have my own personal struggles with extreme feelings in these areas, I think a lot of the feelings I work with are universal and can serve as quite a coming together point if executed correctly.
RT: You recently displayed some work at the Art Institute of Chicago, can you talk more about that experience?
SJ: It Got Away From Me is a piece with a couple different meanings. I was invited to propose a piece for SAIC’s 150th Anniversary Gala taking place in the AIC. I proposed to the committee a large, handwoven textile composed of blues resembling a horizon, and wrote of the haziness of memory and the color blue as “there seen from here”. For me personally, however, the finished piece had much more to do with the politics of visibility within a museum, and whose work has the right to be seen. The gallery in which my piece was ultimately placed contains a variety of Asian art but largely functions as a hallway for getting from one part of the museum to another, with the Textile Department below easy to miss, and a gorgeous Georgia O’Keefe above the stairs out of sight. I intended for It Got Away From Me to reference these less visible pieces of art and take up the space they deserve. The initial proposal of the intangibility of memory still does hold true, but the overall piece is much more than that.
On a technical level, the two textiles I made are both completely hand dyed and handwoven multicloth (a way of weaving multiple layers on top of one another on the loom, often to create sculptural elements to fabric, or create a large fabric that can unfold off the loom). The higher panel is quadruple cloth measuring 12 feet wide by 18 feet tall, and the lower is six layer cloth measuring 16 feet wide by 12 feet tall.
RT: What is something you wish you’d learned early on in life (or school) but only found out later?
SJ: I wish I had known it doesn’t matter too much what job you have as an artist, so long as you enjoy it and it provides the means and time to pursue your personal practice. I think I wasted a lot of undue energy stressing about “having a career in the arts” before I realized most artists have a “job on the side” and are perfectly happy that way.
Savannah Jubic is a talented weaver and installation artist based in Chicago and is available for commissions! Contact at [email protected] and Follow on instagram at @savjubic