Embroidery is nothing new to Jenny Hart; in fact, she’s one of the forerunners of using needle and thread (and hair) in modern art. Meet her here.
Do you remember your first embroidery? Describe it to us?
I didn’t begin embroidering until the summer of 2000, so I remember it really well! It was a portrait of my mother. I knew that I wanted to apply traditional, American hobby embroidery to portraiture, which was a non-traditional approach, so I started with her. It was definitely a learning experience, but it’s how I learned that I was instantly obsessed with embroidering.
Does embroidery run in the family?
One of the reasons I became so interested in embroidery was the realization that my mother and my grandmothers all knew a little bit of how to do it all: sew, knit, embroider…but I didn’t. I was the first generation of women in my family that wasn’t raised as though there were going to be “essential domestic skills”. So, at a time when i we began re-embracing them.
Why was it portraits that first captivated you?
Well, I love people’s faces and I love portraits. But, also I wanted a very straightforward format to show what I was doing with embroidery by taking a familiar subject worked in a recognizable, medium, but in a way each had not been seen before.
If your work became a song, what would it be?
What an interesting question. Hm. I guess when I think about a song that would “sound” like my work, at least to me, I’d say Ship of Fools by John Cale.
You’ve lived quite a few places: Illinois, Kansas, France, Texas, Los Angeles. What drew you to these places?
I grew up in rural Illinois and I still love the midwest. But, I was just dying to get out of my hometown see bigger places. I never imagined I’d end up in Los Angeles, and I actually live in an area just outside the city that has a very midwestern feel. It’s the best of both worlds that I love.
What’s your favorite city in the world, and why?
Paris. I have friends and family there, and French is my second language. It feels like a second home. So many important things in my life have taken place there, and it’s a city that requires you to “just go with it”. I like that very much. I love being in Paris without a plan.
Set ’em up and knock ’em down.
Advice on pursuing your dreams:
I think it’s important to realize that your dream may not be as you envisioned it. My dream was always to live my life as an artist, but I had no idea that I would fall in love with embroidery. I had absolutely no interest in needlework growing up. So, you have to remain open to trying new things and “finding your dream”.
Favorite non-conventional medium to embroider with:
My own hair.
Tell us about your collab with Citizens of Humanity X FP. What has the experience meant to you?
Working with Citizens has been wonderful. They are a rare company of exceptional people and their enthusiasm for collaborating with artists is really special. I love that Free People incorporates so much embroidery into their garments, so this was a perfect fit. I love the results. I’m especially excited about the limited edition embroidery kit we did together.
Anything we can look forward to at your upcoming in-store events?
I’m very excited to have some of my artwork on hand and show how I work up close to anyone who’s interested!
Look for Jenny in mid-November as she hosts workshops in three of our FP stores:
And get our free limited edition embroidery kit for participating! While supplies last.
+ Shop Citizens of Humanity here.