JP Open Studios Preview

June 27, 2008
By

KRISTIN BONELLI


Courtesy Photo
“Wearable Art Designs” by Ifé Franklin is made using eleko, the Yoruba word for wax resist.

Ifé Franklin: Adire Artist

A visit to fiber artist Ifé Franklin’s studio yields emotion, power, beauty and a new outfit.

Franklin started out as a photographer and holds a degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. She worked with master fiber artists, fell in love with the artistic processes and never looked back. She is employed as an arts educator for area youths, teaching students the art of adire, an ancient technique of constructing textiles and dying fabrics in intricate patterns using wax-resistant materials.

“I’m doing this to expose to younger generations the origins of what they may call tie-dye,” she said, “to educate them about where the traditions and the processes come from, that these have been practiced for many cultures and there are origins and histories here.”

Franklin specializes in adire, and her work, though technically masterful to behold, is more than just aesthetic. “I work very spiritually,” Franklin said, and her spirituality is reflected in the designs and colors she chooses to present in her clothing.

“The deities in religion come up in my work,” she said. “Different deities have connections to nature, astrology and more. I use hieroglyphics from other cultures and also forms that I create.”

Franklin’s reflective tone, adding her own personal and contemporary nuances to the traditional African-based methodologies, results in unique, wearable designs.

Franklin works in other media as well. Her recent one-woman show, “Walking With Spirits,” combined installation, mixed media and sculpture and articulated the inspirations and motivations for her art, stating: “My work is primarily based on African Diaspora folk culture.”

Franklin has lived in Jamaica Plain for about 15 years. During that time she has seen her neighborhood go though many changes but observes an overall commitment from all residents to improve their surroundings. Franklin has participated in Jamaica Plain Open Studios (JPOS) for 10 years. She said she likes being involved “because I can connect with the people purchasing my work. There is a personal connection here and a great opportunity to learn how to talk about your work as an artist.”

Examples of the work Franklin will be showing at this year’s JPOS can be seen at: www.myspace.com/IféArts.

JPOS is celebrating its 15th year as the premiere annual arts event in one of Boston’s most exciting neighborhoods. JPOS showcases 220 artists at 75 sites. The event is open to the public and will take place Sept. 27 through 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and to preview artists’ work, visit www.jpopenstudios.com or call 943-7819.

JPOS is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events.

The author is a volunteer with the Jamaica Plain Arts Council.