By: Tyler Schultz Photos by: Lillian Reitz
From teabags to beeswax, Jamie Speck has an incredible way of turning the ordinary into the astonishing. With a Master’s in Fine Arts from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, she creates pieces focused on the rituals and routines of everyday life and celebrates the sacredness found in it.
Raised in a rural Texas town, Speck was not exposed to fine art as a child, instead finding solace in rummaging through the family junk drawer and piecing things together. It was from this young age that she realized there was something incredibly special about working with her hands, bringing new life to ordinary objects otherwise overlooked. Her innate desire to create things carried on through college, where she was introduced to the formal elements and training of art. Though the materials she uses may be non-traditional, it’s those formal elements, like awareness of color and texture, that are driving forces in her work today.
Speck uses a variety of mixed media, connected to life in some form, to create brilliant pieces of work. Some of her most recent work from her Hausfrau Collection focuses on things that make her life sacred: the routine and ritual of life at home. A dress is made from teabags collected over time from her morning cup, meticulously treated and stitched together to form a gown. Another garment uses dryer sheets from every load of laundry.
Each of her works represents the small, yet sacred moments of daily life. Speck’s art is the celebration of rituals and routines that, stitched together, commemorate the realities of domestic life. As a mother, wife, and artist, this has been her way of celebrating the ordinary and finding joy in the mundane.
Like that child rummaging through the junk drawer, Speck approaches her projects searching for what can be used to make something new. This process typically begins with collecting items from everyday use. From there, she curates a formula of how she will treat and piece together something incredible.
She never sets an end goal, though, as Speck believes it’s important to let the pieces take form on their own, as they are slowly being stitched together. Like life, her art often grows and changes with the passage of time; she observed, “Not everything is finite. When you get bored with something—change it.”
Her tactile approach brings an incredibly personal touch to her works and connects art and life. For Speck, stitching is a process that represents mending, healing, and repair, giving sanctity and life to the humble objects she transforms. It pieces together those hallowed moments we often miss, mends the broken times, and connects the pieces we tend to overlook.
Her current projects are a continuation of her Hausfrau Collection, though focusing on what’s found around the exterior of the house, taking felt, beeswax, teabags, and more to create objects with a sense of home. These collections are a reflection of the safety and comfort found in the house for the artist, especially living through a pandemic; they honor the life being lived there and the joy to be found in it.