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LIGHTBOX – Jenna Richards

March 24, 2016

We’re delighted to welcome our newest LIGHTBOX artist, Jenna Leigh Richards! Jenna earned her BFA in Ceramics and Fibers from Hite Art Institute at University of Louisville in Kentucky, and currently resides and creates art here in Champaign-Urbana.  Walk or drive by our 312 S. Neil St. storefront to view Jenna Richards’ creative art installation made from knitted fabric remnants, on display March 16 – June 15, 2016. 

Jenna Richards’ work stems from a desire to immortalize, and make tangible, textile processes. She has exhibited in nine states all over the midwest and nationally, and has participated in many local and out of state residencies, including Figure One Gallery.  Visit her website to see a more complete list of her residencies and more of her art.

Here are Jenna’s own words on the inspiration behind her LIGHTBOX creation:


The installation is comprised of repurposed fabric remnants from craft stores locally in Champaign and regionally in central Illinois. A remnant is a small remaining quantity of something, often leftover or unused — but not necessarily unwanted. The fabrics were chosen from popular fabrics in the past month, and the intent in choosing each fabric was so that patterns and colors may be read as screen printed. In using remnant fabric, I am supporting the idea that not everything fits into a standard, that the pre-measured is not necessarily exactly what is needed, and therefore is often left discarded.

Jenna Richards LIGHTBOX

In sourcing the material at big-box craft stores it ensures that the fabric is typically used for sewing or quilting functional objects and garments. There is significance in the intended use of the material because I am purposefully removing the material from its functional application. I am also intentionally mis-pairing material and the process. I achieve this by knitting fabric, where knitting is typically with yarn, and fabric is most often sewed. I am working against the concept that materials and processes have only one use and can be conducted incorrectly.

The pattern is comprised of a twisted stitch pattern. This is where one knits through the ‘incorrect’ part of the loop; this is how I originally learned to knit. I continue to knit with twisted stitches even after this ‘mistake’ became evident to me while reading Knitting for Anarchists by author Anna Zilboorg. This process of using an ‘incorrect’ knit stitch is important because I believe there are no incorrect methods of knitting, only different techniques. Not only are twisted stitches significant because I knit with that method, but they are also the only way that that knitting is applied in many crafts, for example in knitting looms and cord makers.

The notion that there is no wrong way is reinforced in my site-specific installation in many ways. I am using the remnant material that didn’t fit into the predetermined measurement, using fabric beyond its typical intent, using knitting with non-traditional materials and using the ‘incorrect’ twisted stitch.


More of Jenna’s work can be seen at her current One in Herself at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, and upcoming Small Expressions 2016 at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Get social with Jenna on Instagram, @jennaleighrichards!

A BIG thank you to 40 North for their involvement and support of the LIGHTBOX program!