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Get to know Jodi Hays...

Welcome back to our continued series, ONLINE → IN HOME.  This week, we feature Nashville Artist, Jodi Hays.  We asked some questions to learn more about her and how the current state of the world has affected her life.  Jodi is a long term East Nashville resident, a stable in our Arts community and an inspiration and supporter to many.  We're grateful to have worked with Jodi for the last four years and look forward to many more.  Get to know Jodi Hays...

Red Arrow:  The first show you had with us in 2017 was called KEEPER.  The body of work was very community oriented & neighborhood driven.  Since the March 3 tornado, the landscape of your neighborhood has changed.  How has that event and now the quarantine affected you, your family and surrounding neighbors?

JODI: I see some boundaries as fluid.  The context of the 2016 election shifted some iconography-- I spelled it out, made it clear in Keeper, delivering works on paper with an assertive red ink and representational force (in addition to abstraction).  I was responding to the urgency of living in a community -- scarce, messy or complicated.

The first texts i got in the minutes following the tornado was from Red Arrow friends, knowing how close I live to the path.  I will never forget that.  We went from helping, moving, organizing and hugging, to staying inside, just us.  What I note most in this time is the constant sound of nail guns, neighbors rebuilding.

Red Arrow:  Please share a brief description of how you approach a new piece.

JODI:   I generally work on several pieces simultaneously.  Work begets work.  I clock in daily and try to keep surprised.  The quarantine studio has been immersive and important, mostly because I am steps from the studio at any time and spent the fall into reading and research mode.

I keep piles and files; fabric, works on paper, collage materials, current reading. Often these textiles will jump start a work and then try to listen to it.  This means I sew scraps together-- lately I am thinking of ticking, Louise Bourgeois textile work, Al Loving and Virginia Overton.

Red Arrow:  You had a show in February at the Browsing Room, Outskirts, that was reviewed by Art Forum.  What is your opinion of critical art writing and the importance of it to further an Artists career?  Do you feel we have enough critical writing coming out of Nashville?

JODI: Quoting Brandi Carlile "un-expect everything!"  I don't take any review for granted.  I wish everyone could feel the boost of one's work being understood and championed in this way.  The best moments are when a writer (or anyone!) sees, understands and creates paths for the work.  I am really lucky to have had that happen more than once.

Red Arrow:  What is the first thing you want to do or place you want to go when things level out a bit more?

JODI:  I want to hug friends and family.  And go to estate sales and the flea market.

Red Arrow:  What do you listen to in the studio?

JODI:   BORING ALERT:  I listen to NPR, podcasts and nothing.  Sometimes even the most interesting art podcast can be too distracting from the work.  During quarantine I have enjoyed the Brooklyn Rail's lunchtime conversations and Facetime studio visits.  It has been helpful to remember that we are all trying to process where we are.  

Red Arrow:  What does a typical day look like for you these days?

JODI:  I have felt like the least effective air-traffic controller, lining up tasks like planes on a runway.  After two months we have settled into a rhythm, our family of five and i have not once been bored.  Between kids' school, walks, distanced birthdays, kids hearts, gardening, studio, online content, (all those amazing studio visits!), teaching and meals.  My three kids are mostly learning remotely and I am mostly remembering all the passwords.

However, I have never been so grateful to experience my work, ready and waiting for me.  In between making masks, reading the news, distance learning three kids, a giant reminder is that I have to make work and it is my first love (attesting to the patience of my actual people, whom I love.)

Red Arrow:  What is one word or thought that you would like folks to know or reflect on to feel better, during this time?

JODI:  I gave a talk (at the end of March) to painting students at University of Memphis.  They asked this question of me, more of less.  I am glad I get a do-over because I think I said "I don't know!".

Remain present.  Do what you can.  Stay connected.  Be the first one to call when a storm hits.