Jessie struggled to fit the design she'd labored on for close to a week over an unsuspecting trash can on Girard Avenue. The struggle was indicative to a deeper struggle within her - between her art and her self.
In her Philadelphia apartment Jessie put the finishing touches on her brightly colored rectangles of yarn while she explained her medium. “I was never good at drawing or painting, but I always loved street art, tagging and graffiti.”, She says, “I just can't imagine not yarnbombing.”.
She got her start learning to knit from her grandmother and she recollects a course in knitting offered to safeties while growing up in her suburban community. Later, it was simply the boredom of commuting to work on the train that reignited an interest in knitting. She recounts that she had from motion sickness while reading. Knitting seemed like a reasonable solution that has now turned into an obsession. She rifles through her bag, tossing balls of yarn, a pair of sunglasses and a little black bag that most girls would keep lip gloss and tampons in, but Jessie stows a tiny pair of scissors, some loose thread and a knitting needle... just in case. The rest of her knitting skills she's obtained from books and articles that she's spliced together – a hodge podge of knowledge brought together much like her pieces.
Her deeper struggle is a great love for art of all kinds, a deep belief that it should be accessible to all people, and her reluctance to recognize herself as a true artist. In her respect for artists she feels there's a certain level of credential that's earned when one puts the time and effort into studying and mastering an art form. Jessie doesn't seem to feel she's done this, at least not in the conventional - art school - way. She shies away from directly associating herself in the realm of artists that surround her. Its an act of humility. She sees herself as just doing what she loves.
Hemmons does believe strongly that art should be equally accessible to all people and shine a light on those in lesser known communities. She has benefited recently from some notoriety over work done in Rittenhouse Square and similar areas. However, she winces at
terms like, “Hipster art”. Her true passions would carry her to vast projects. Ultimately, she dreams of covering a house in Kensington. “Wrap it up, like a present.”, she says.
She struggles with the same issues as any artist: time, money, venue. She touts, “I never wanted it to be about money.”, which is part of the reason yarn is such a tangible medium. Yet, a vast project like a home or any structure costs a considerable amount of money
and time, which she's willing to invest, but wrestles with the logistics of. Until she figures those things out she continues doing what she simply can't stop doing.
She pulls and tugs at the piece. She had measured the can she planned to adorn with the cozy, but had opted to post on a different trash can. It wasn't fitting. She was finally able to stitch the two sides together and weave a stitch around the top to ensure it didn't slide down.
Families get off the trolley.
A man stops to inquire as to why she'd ever spend all that time dressing up a trash can.
She steps back from her piece and declares, she's not happy. It just wasn't what she envisioned. Jessie holds her work to high standard. She stands north of it, west of it, walks away east of it and several times looks over her shoulder. Reaffirming herself then edging off, she says, “That'll do I guess. Next time I'll do that bus stop. I think that's part of my problem. I envision big things.”
When Jessie dreams of covering a dilapidated home in south Philadelphia with yarn to beautify and shine a light on that community, she's reminding us all what it means to be an artist. Though she's reluctant to admit it, she is the core of a true artist. A true artist has no choice, but to do what they love, no matter the medium or venue. Conventionality mean little. Vision means everything.
For a slide show of photos from Jessie's great trash can yarn bomb, click on this link:
For more information on yarnbombing visit www.yarnbombing.com