An artist can find inspiration in many different ways. From the beauty of a favorite tree to childhood remembrances, Amy Schomaker is inspired to create.
Schomaker, administrative assistant for the photojournalism department at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, creates fiber art, which involves using natural and synthetic fibers. Traditionally, fiber art is thought of as sewing or weaving.
“I like to make things that are visually appealing and useful to me,” Schomaker said. “I enjoy fiber art because it’s often touchy-feely, soft and useable. You can use a scarf to stay warm or be stylish. I prefer fiber art over framed art because it’s meant to be touched.”
In May, Schomaker’s work was on display at the Arts & Crafts Showcase, part of MU’s Staff Recognition Week. She has also displayed at the Boone County Art Show and the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center as part of the Columbia Art League’s Community Exhibit program. In November, her art will be part of the 2015 Holiday Exhibition and Sale, hosted by the Columbia Weavers and Spinners’ Guild.
Schomaker was influenced by her mother’s craft makings and her father’s prowess as a game hunter and fisherman. When Schomaker was growing up, her mother did a lot of fabric design, from making clothes to sewing quilts.
Originally from the St. Louis area, Schomaker holds a bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of Missouri. While she was a student, her art consisted mostly of painting and printmaking. Then she learned how to dye fabrics and create sculptural fiber art. Though she hopes one day to take up sewing, right now her focus is fiber.
“I still go back and forth between the forms of art,” Schomaker said. “Currently I like surface design on scarves and other types of fiber art forms.”
Schomaker enjoys creating wearable fiber art, such as scarves and hats, and sculptural fiber art, like story boxes and papier-mâché sculptures.
The scarves are created from felted wool and silk, a process that consists of heat, friction and soapy water. “You basically marry the fabrics together to make one new piece of fabric,” Schomaker said. Two scarves Schomaker showed at the Arts & Crafts Showcase were award winners at the Boone County Art Show.
Story boxes are created to communicate a memory or a story in miniature. They do not consist of the same marriage of fabrics in scarf making, but are still considered fiber art. Schomaker has made several sculptural story boxes inspired by her childhood memories and admiration for nature.
One box recollects the story of a tree outside of Schomaker’s childhood house. Similar to the way bark protects a tree when it’s alive, the story of the tree is protected by a scrap of tree bark surrounding the artwork. Inside the box, memories of the tree are told through a photograph and a magnet, one of Schomaker’s childhood toys. Hanging from the box is a stretch of paper folded into triangles, representing a snake she saw climbing the tree to a bird’s nest.
More traditional forms of fiber art are weaving and basket making. As an ode to her father, Schomaker created a basket inspired by her father’s ability to provide food for the family as a hunter and fisherman. Schomaker wove the basket with reed and covered it with handmade paper and shed skin from her friend’s Burmese python. The top rim of the basket was decorated with turtle claws.
“As I have grown older, I have realized how good of a job my dad did at providing [food] for us,” Schomaker said. “And my mom did a great job of learning how to cook the food.”
Time for Art
Schomaker said her challenge to creating art is finding the time to finish projects and explore other art endeavors.
“I’ve created silk flowers and cards,” Schomaker said. “I’m also currently interested in making jewelry, so I’m making small bottle earrings and putting fancy paper and fabrics in them. I enjoy trying new things and exploring new forms of art.”