Fiber artist Jacquelyn Roesch-Sanchez shares a collection of wearable art created using rich, vibrantly colored threads. Visit her website to view more of her work.
From a very young age, I’ve been attracted to ethereal imagery—looking for rainbows after a storm, seeing images reflected in mirrors and window panes, watching the colors in nature as they first intensify then fade at dusk, and being mesmerized by ocean waves and pools of water as they eddy in the breeze.
I always wanted to become an artist, but I didn’t feel called to traditional methods of expression. In 1974, I decided to buy a knitting machine as a way of expressing myself after seeing one at a sweater manufacturer’s space in New York City.
A few years later, while working at a knitwear designer’s atelier, I discovered viscose (rayon) thread for sale while on an errand for supplies. I loved the brilliance of the saturated colors and tensile strength of the material that looks similar to silk.
By the time I left my job, I had collected 125 different colors of thread. Soon thereafter, I made my first work of art. It was a knitted kimono reflecting the colors of places I’d visited on a trip around the United States in the fall of 1975.
I worked out a deal with the viscose company to buy 1½ pounds of every dye lot of thread the company produced. Over time, I collected more than 2,000 cones of thread in a myriad of colors. I also developed my process, which requires three or four different colors of thread knitted together, methodically changing colors to create spectrums. I taught myself how to make patterns, and learned methods for hand finishing from multiple sources.
My early inspirations for color and design came from Issey Miyake, Missoni, Mark Rothko, Sonia Delaunay and Clyfford Still. Through the availability of opportunities that came my way, I built a knitting business. It incorporated a line of sweaters and knitted costumes for movies, plays and commercials. I became an exhibiting artist at Julie Artisan’s Gallery on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
Wearable art became my preferred expression as art galleries and museums included my works in their Art to Wear shows. To date, I’ve been making one-of-a-kind and limited edition Art to Wear for forty-six years.
I’ve branched out from wearables to several new expressions. In 2008, I knitted a 12’ x 22’ ceiling that was commissioned for a restaurant lobby in Montclair, New Jersey. The imagery depicted a sunset seen from an airplane and incorporated 275 colors of thread.
From January to March, 2022, I created eight meditation screens measuring 26” x 48.” The screens can be mounted on walls or hung from the ceiling. Each piece depicts a place in time captured from my memories. Recently, I mounted small works on drapery and upholstery fabrics and attached them to canvases.
I moved to Palm City, Florida in 2015. My studio is in my home—a small space—but a perfect fit for me. I feel more energized than ever as living on the Treasure Coast has provided endless inspiration from nature in this paradise of flora and fauna.