Weaving Her Way Across the World

Posted by: Michele Cohen

Artist and designer Janell Wysock ’04 wanted to “weave across the world” for a month. She just needed a little help to get there.

Through a successful gofundme campaign with sponsorship opportunities, Moore alumna Wysock was able to surpass her fundraising goal and travel to a European setting to create new work.

At the end of May, she left Philadelphia for Ateliers Four Winds, an artist colony in southern France that provides studios and accommodations for artists to be inspired by the colors and light of Provence. Set close to Les Alpilles mountain range near Marseille, the area has inspired artists for centuries, such as Van Gogh and Cezanne.

Exploring the use of traditional and contemporary materials in textile design has always been a passion for Wysock, who graduated from Moore in 2004 with a Textile major and a minor in Fashion Design and Art History. At Ateliers Four Winds, she is doing her own work as well as a continued collaboration with Australian artist Emma Rochester from Griffith University in Brisbane. The two first collaborated during Rochester’s residency with Temple University at Crane Arts in 2014 with the exhibition Leaning Into The Earth. They have continued this synergistic collaborative, again creating large scale weavings for exhibition paired with video, inspired by the colors and materials in their surroundings.

“We go into the landscape, being still and peaceful, and respond to what we’re seeing,” Wysock said. The weaving process is being documented and the videos will be projected in a subsequent exhibition.

Before she left for France, Wysock asked friends and family to help sponsor her trip and the creation of new textile work. To date, she has raised $4,735 to defray the costs of airfare, transportation, accommodations and materials, including wool and silk for weaving. As the campaign continues now, supporters are still welcome to contribute for film and exhibition costs.

Every donor will receive a courtesy gift – depending on the sponsorship level – ranging from a matted photograph of one of her works to a mini weaving or a pointelle poncho. More than 100 people have donated, including a handful of Moore alumni.

“I had never tried this platform before (gofundme), but after writing my proposal (for the residency), my friend said ‘why don’t you think about a platform where you can do fundraising by crowdsourcing,’” she said. “It scared me at first, but it has been well received.”

When she returns home, Wysock plans to work on her film as well as creating pieces for her donors. She also plans to host a thank you party for donors on July 16 at a private residence in Ambler and again at her new studio space in September.

In addition, she wants return to her business, Janell Wysock Textiles, and resume teaching at her studio July 7 for her Thursday night Open Weaving Classes. A contemporary knitwear designer, Wysock also teaches various wearable textile art practices under the name CRAFTspace Philly.

She is in the process of incorporating an intergenerational weaving class where senior citizens, children and their parents can work “in community” on learning skills and making projects, but more importantly, the opportunity to spend meaningful time together. “I love to pass on textile techniques and have people use their hands and their mind,” she said. “It’s very healing. I want people to come in small groups and relax and experience this technique among other people as it had been taught in earlier times.”

Wysock first learned about Moore in 1999, when she took a sewing class through the Continuing Education program. Her teacher, a Moore alumna, asked her why she had never gone to college. In fact, nobody in her family had. Wysock found herself in a portfolio review that her teacher had set up with the Admissions office during the winter break.

“I had taken printmaking, ceramics and life drawing classes at a community college,” she said. “I thought I could figure it out on my own. But I really needed the support and immersive experience of being at Moore. I went home to my husband that day and said, ‘hey I signed up for full time college — and it starts in 10 days.’”

Since graduating, Wysock has stayed involved with the Moore through the Alumni Association and selling work at The Art Shop. “My time at Moore informed everything that I’m doing right now. Moore gave me the confidence and understanding. It was sort of what I had been seeking, but I didn’t know how to find it until I showed up there and really plugged in.”
For more information on Janell Wysock, visit her website.