Visual artist Amy Jarding has a passion for mixed media, obscuring everyday objects into “surreal visions.” And one thing is for sure – she never shies away from color. 605 chatted with the self-proclaimed “old grandma lady” about what inspires her, where you can find her grabbing a bite, and how she uses the most random items in the name of art.

PEOPLE MAY KNOW ME FROM… my work exhibited around downtown. I’ve been fortunate to participate in both solo and group shows in the area over the past few years.

A LOT OF MY INFLUENCES ARE…found in my surroundings. I’m drawn to strange color combinations and textures, scary movies, and tiny toys; antique and grocery stores are excellent places to let your eyes wander.

MY LOVE FOR LARGE-SCALE WEAVES STARTED…somewhat on an impulse. I have always had an appreciation for textiles, but had a very limited understanding of how weaving actually worked. My roommates had built a skateboard ramp in our backyard, so I took some scrap wood from that and built my first makeshift loom about four-and-a-half years ago. The entire venture has been a very intensive learning process, and I feel like each weave I complete, I unlock a little more understanding of the craft.

I CREATE LIVE LARGE-SCALE WEAVES AT EVENTS BECAUSE… it’s a great way to give more understanding to the process. Weaving is such a tactile experience, I think encouraging others to try it out themselves lessens the intimidation factor.

IF YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR A LARGE-SCALE WEAVE, I ALSO CREATE… paintings and photographs. And a mean cornbread casserole.

I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT VISUAL ARTS… because it’s universal. You don’t have to be a certain age or from a specific background to be a visual artist, you just have to have the courage to make an effort, to expose those unspoken parts of you. Each person views art differently, their emotions and interpretation fueled by their own experiences and interests. Even if you don’t think you care about art, you’re still having some sort of reaction to it.

MIXED MEDIA I USE INCLUDES…both new and found material. Two of the stranger things I’ve incorporated into a weave have been strips of an old fur boot and a dreadlock that was gifted to me from a friend. Neither of them smelled super great. I’m always on the lookout for interesting looking yarn or fabric, and am not against thrifting my material. (Pro tip: Place any
thrifted yarn in the freezer for a few days to kill off any moth or little baby bug eggs!)

I’M KNOWN FOR BRIGHT POPS OF COLOR. I’M DRAWN TO THEM… because they are so deceptive. I enjoy the playfulness of different color combinations, and the way you can manipulate the perception of what you’re
viewing. I’ve been experimenting more with intricate patterns and designs that trick the eye. I’ve found Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color really helpful.

OTHER TYPES OF ART I WORK ON ARE… a food photography series called Put a Toy On It. Starting in 2012, I began taking miniature toys and photographing them with things I would eat for breakfast. I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a kid, so this was a way for me to document that internal feeling into something that made me comfortable to work with. I believe there are now over 200 photos in the series, which can be found on Instagram: #putatoyonit

WHEN I’M NOT WORKING ON PIECES OF ART, YOU CAN FIND ME… sleeping in the tub. I work full time, so a lot of my free time is spent on my craft. I try to work in the studio at least an hour a day, but sometimes it’s more like four. On the weekends I enjoy checking out different antique stores, wandering around the mall, or playing board games with friends. I’m an old grandma lady.

MY GO-TO HANGOUT IS… my house. The older I get, the less I want to leave the house after dark. During the summer I love riding my bike downtown to hang out with friends, catching a show at Total Drag or Icon, or chugging a low-key beer in the Gilberto’s parking lot.

SOMETHING THAT IS INFLUENCING ME RIGHT NOT IS… winter. I am so affected by the weather that I really need to push myself to stay on focus with my work. It’s too easy to go to bed at 8 p.m. when the sun is gone by 5
p.m. It can be an isolating time, so I try to stick to more of a regimented
schedule to keep myself productive.

I LOVE TO GRAB A BITE OR DRINK AT… Sushi Masa, forever and always. I also recently discovered you can bring your own food to Fernson Brewing [Company], and had fun eating way too much pizza during their Trivia Night.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE ARTISTIC WORKS IN SOUTH DAKOTA IS… The Porter Sculpture Park off of I-90 near Montrose. My dad’s side of the family is from Humboldt, so we would drive by it on the interstate every time we would visit. As a child I would imagine them to be alien artifacts or giant baby toys left behind. It’s one of those childhood attachments that has stayed with me.

I LOVE LIVING IN SOUTH DAKOTA… because it’s where most of the people I love are. I enjoy the slower pace and the familiarity attached to it. I think there are definitely areas that are problematic, but for the most part I am proud to call this place my home.

SOMEONE LOCAL WHO I ADMIRE IS… Anna Youngers and Darin Kaihoi. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them through exhibiting at Coffea [Roasterie] downtown, and I have always been so impressed by their
warm, accommodating attitudes. They are artists themselves, Anna a painter, and Darin a musician. Anna’s skillset as a painter is just unreal, and I think she has helped elevate local artists who take her figure drawing classes. I’m so impressed by her students! I just have a deep appreciation for both of them, and feel lucky to have crossed paths with such a genuine couple.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE ARTS COMMUNITY IS… the ever-expanding size of it. It’s a special thing to find “your people,” and I think Sioux Falls is really good about being inclusive. I love Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce, and think that their crew continuously puts on playful, provoking exhibitions. I’m still thinking about their Ka-Chunk show over a year later. I’ve also been impressed by Vishnu Bunny Third Eye Gallery, and think they do a great job of offering a place for new artists to show their work. I love when you can see artists (both new and established) pushing themselves, and them having the support of their community to follow through with their visions.

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