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Jennifer Vantrease: Biography

In the sultry state of Tennessee, my life roots exist. Tennessee is a paradoxical place of beautiful landscapes, slow pace, and friendly people: all of which are in constant tension with its polite social front, its heavy religious traditions, and its ever-present racial turmoil.

This was the geographical and cultural context of my formational years, and having been reared in a family of deeply committed Judeo-Christian faith, I was well versed in a self-reflecting, questioning of the status quo of my context. In fact, some of my earliest memories centered around the cultural norm of racial segregation and my parent's own rejection of this practice.

Tennessee was also the birth place of my love for materials, particularly fibrous materials, and my earliest urges to create. My home town being a cotton-growing community, the summers were marked by cotton clusters wafting through the air and tufted on the roadside.

And I had a mother and two grandmothers who spent time regularly at the sewing machine, with crochet hooks, and with embroidery hoops in hand. I grew up not only with an understanding of fiber work but also the experience of watching the amazing phenomenon of the ground producing the fibers.

Paradoxically, since leaving home for college almost fifteen years ago, my life has been marked by extensive travel and living four years internationally. Cross-cultural dialogue has been a vital part of my work and friendships. These relationships have given me a deep concern for the global world in which we live and the issues that we face with ever accelerating change.

Consequently, the metaphor of shelter and a hunger for solidarity have become vitally important to my work as I live in both the formational world of my tight-knit, agrarian, childhood and that of my rather fragmented, fast-paced, cosmopolitan adult world.

©2007 by Jennifer Vantrease

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