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Art & Life with Doshi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Doshi- (The name I use as an artist and am known by Nancy Jo Smith–this is my legal name.)

Doshi, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
For over 30 years I designed costumes for Theatre, Dance, Ice-Skating, Stunt Shows and TV. During that time, I worked across the United States in various venues, including Shakespeare festivals, Regional Theatres, Sound Stages, Theme Parks (including our own Sea World) and Ice Rinks. I received numerous honors and awards in design including a Themed Entertainment Award for Excellence in costume design for Water world at Universal Studios Hollywood.

In 1986, while doing research for a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I came across a book on the kimonos of Itchiko Kubota and thus began my fascination with shaped resist dyeing, and the amazing combination of texture and color it creates. I incorporated Shibori techniques into the fabric design of that show and slowly started creating textiles for walls and lines of wearable art in addition to costumes.

I have been honored to create several solo exhibitions. My fiber work has been seen in juried and invitational shows at the Mingei International Museum, Japanese Friendship Garden and Visions Art Museum in San Diego, Oceanside Museum of Art, Laguna Art Museum, Palos Verdes Art Center, and The International Shibori Symposium in Oaxaca.
I am also a professor of Costume Design at California State University, Long Beach. A leading University in Theatre where I supervise a graduate MFA program, and teach courses in costume design, patterning, tailoring, millinery, and dyeing.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I work in fiber, mostly silk, and create unique designs of wearable art and wall hangings. Shibori, an ancient Japanese textile dyeing process, is the method I use. The technique uses various means of binding; including knotting, pleating, rolling, pressing or sewing before the dyeing process.

The meditative and physical process of binding holds the potential for producing an array of exquisite shaped-resist patterns. Building layers of rich color from over-dyeing, through processes such as pour dyeing, dip dyeing, painting, and removing color increase the possibilities for complexity of imagery and patterning. The inherent crimped and puckered textures created by the compression contribute to the tactile and aesthetic appeal of the textile.
My inspiration comes from nature; fascination with leaves, flowers, bugs, and birds doesn’t seem to ebb. I take camera and sketchbook along where ever I go. There is no limit to the possibilities of how nature can be employed to inspire something beautiful and fresh.

There is a mystery revealed when the cloth is unraveled—a spontaneity and magic in the colors and shapes. The soft edges, the textures that reflect the dynamism and sensuality of life’s richness all create dynamic, graceful and evocative statements that inspire me to create expressive pieces of wearable art and textiles. My wish is that wearing my garments will coax joy out of the ordinary—I want people to feel the same sense of adventure and energy that I had making the piece.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
The sheer scope of media available today is as terrifying as it is liberating. The first question is what art to make? This struggle is perpetual—it can be difficult to narrow down what is essential about your work and what makes is different from the art already out there. The world of aspiring artists has always been crowded and chaotic. It is filled with concern about how to pay for a studio and materials, not to mention bills and how much time you will have for actually making art.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My work is available to view on social media and websites. The wearables I create are shown in fiber art galleries and high-end boutiques and on their websites. There are several ways to support any artist. By liking, sharing, and following their work on social media the art work can be appreciated by many. And then, of course, there is buying and taking home a piece of artwork!

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