Sewing the seeds of art: Executive director weaves her journey

Apr 8, 2019

MARION — Jodi Stevens knows how to fold, twist, bind, stitch and dye silk to create vibrant designs in the Japanese Shibori style and create sculptures out of textiles. There is no limit to how Stevens can manipulate fabric. 

Among her fabric sculptures was an art installation on a wooden table. Yellow threads weave around its surface and drip along its legs turning into a ombre pool of interwoven threads.

Stevens, a graduate of East Carolina University with a fine arts degree, began her art journey as a child growing up in North Carolina. As a little girl, she enjoyed making arts and crafts and that passion continued through her high school and college career. 

Though she learned skills such as wood design and metalsmithing in college, Stevens found herself more drawn to textiles.

Stevens said that the versatility of fabric is what made her appreciate it. 

One of the projects she did was Shibori scarf making. Stevens said the unpredictability of the technique’s results is what solidified her love for fabric. “The wow factor is there and people seem to get hooked. It’s kind of what hooked me in textiles,” said Stevens, “In art school, I tried a bunch of different classes but I loved textiles because ... there are so many different techniques you can learn.” 

After graduating with a degree in textiles, Stevens moved to Massachusetts to study fibers at a graduate program in UMASS Dartmouth. It was there that Stevens began teaching art. At UMASS, she taught students an introductory course on textiles. She has also taught a continuing education program at Rhode Island School of Design. Eventually, Stevens would go on to teach children at the Fuller Craft Museum various classes, including quilt making. 

Stevens said she fell in love with New England while she was there; not only for the beaches but for the rich art atmosphere. Ultimately, those factors are what convinced her to stay in Massachusetts. 

Currently Stevens serves as the Executive Director at the Marion Art Center. Stevens said she loves her job because of the  constant interaction with the surrounding community. She has learned a lot over the last six months, including a lot about theater, something she didn’t know much about before. 

“There is a lot of outreach involved with the community which I think is great,” Stevens said, “I think it’s exciting to be here because I think the MAC can be really a central hub for the region, for people to come and have a great creative experience whether it’s music or theater or art”

Stevens will be teaching a class on Shibori scarf making for ArtWeek. The class will be on Thursday, May 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Marion Arts Center. The workshop is $35 per person. Stevens suggests students wear old clothes or bring an apron and wear large kitchen gloves for dyeing. All other materials will be provided.