Laundry is an everyday occurence at our house — but sometimes it feels elevated to its own sort of fine art. When I pulled a thick, long strip of espresso-colored lint from a dryer screen recently, I was struck by the rich color and texture — wondering what it might become if given life outside a trash bin.
Alas — I hadn’t yet discovered Scottsdale artist Jill Friedberg. I imagined my husband finding me saving yet another object for it’s artistic potential. Thankfully, he has yet to uncover the rough-textured putty grey egg carton I recently set aside for a school art project — or other recent additions to my stash.
I recalled the lint, which seemed to me a thing of beauty, after chatting Friday afternoon with Friedberg. I learned of her work from Cynthia Henry with the Arizona Department of Health Services, who noted that the three of us have all served at one time or another on a committee charged with reducing stigma against those living with mental illness.
As we spoke by phone, Friedberg rattled off a list of materials she’s enjoyed working with of late, including laundry lint. I felt a sense of wonder where I’d once felt only shame. Turns out that themes of beauty, shame and wonder are integral to many of her works — which include photography, sculpture, painting and more.
Friedberg shared early in our conversation that she’s been making art since very early in life. I recalled a clay sculpture once crafted by my now 19-year-old daughter Jennifer. She was two at the time. I remember being struck by its sophistication — which called to mind memories of visits to some of Europe’s great art museums in Italy, Paris and London.
Jennifer has been creating art from just about everything she encounters practically from the womb. She’s an artist through and through — though I don’t think she’s necessarily connected yet with that essential part of her being. She dances around it, but has yet to embrace herself as artist and creator. Instead, she studies cultural anthropology — perhaps just another facet of the same jewel.
My own mother saw something similar in me as a child, and created plenty of spaces and places for playing with diverse ideas and materials. Perhaps she once wondered why I chose the study of religion and philosophy over art, a query I’m not sure I can answer except to posit that playing with thought and language might be its own form of artistic expression.
Friedberg says her mom pretty much gave her the run of the kitchen as a child. It was there that Friedberg’s earliest art was born — crafted of eager little fingers exploring gobs of multi-colored frosting. Even today, Friedberg quips that “frosting is paint.” So do all those cupcake boutiques popping up of late really signal a deeper yearning for creativity?
I got to wondering about all sorts of things after talking with Friedberg — the best tribute, perhaps, to her ability to create, inspire and foster genuine wonderment with fellow travelers. I remembered how we used to encourage Jennifer during her own early childhood explorations of food as art media. “You’re a food artist,” we often marveled.
It had never occured to me that there might be others out there who appreciate the fine art of lint and frosting. I’m hoping to meet Friedberg before too long, for we have many things in common — including an interest in art of the Holocaust and a belief in the absolute necessity of arts in a robust education.
I’ll share more about Friedberg and her work in a future post. In the meantime, make some time Saturday night to get to know her yourself. She’s one of 22 Arizona artists whose work is featured at an exhibit that runs through March 27 at the Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery in downtown Phoenix.
She’ll be there Sat, Jan 8, from 5:30-7pm for the opening reception of “Sacred Places.” The exhibit includes two of her works, titled “Ode to Green” and “Dancing Within.” You also can enjoy Friedberg’s artwork at her local studio — or get a taste right now by clicking here to visit her website.
But after connecting with this amazing woman, mother and artist, I’ve no doubt that the best way to enjoy her work is right alongside her. The reception is free, the setting is lovely and the company will be grand.
Note: Watch for a future post sharing more about Friedberg’s current projects and work in the community.
Coming up: From preschool tap lessons to dancing in a Broadway show, Tips for students heading out for this season’s round of B.F.A. program auditions
Photos courtesy of Jill Friedberg