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Creative Resilience – Meet Jenni 17 of 52 Phenomenal Women (Year 2)

Meet Jenni:

In her own words –

@Amy Boyle Photography 2020

“I’m terrible at drawing dogs. It’s a silly thing to be embarrassed about, but for decades, my bad dogs made my childhood dream of becoming an artist feel unattainable. Instead, I focused on becoming a writer, a flexible medium in which I could play.

Today, with more than 30 years of professional writing experience, I’m humbled by the gifts writing has given me, including: 

– The power to inform and educate others 

– The ability to support women like me, who live with chronic illness, through 15 years of ChronicBabe advocacy and coaching 

– The fun of feeling like I can create almost anything with words 

I thought I had found my lifelong medium in writing, that I would always feel satisfied being “just” a writer. Creative hobbies have come and gone, but writing always felt like my forever medium. Then a friend introduced me to quilting. I had previously thought quilting was so, you know, beige. As a craft, it felt boring and stuffy, something my great-grandma did but wasn’t connected to my modern life. I was so wrong. 

@Amy Boyle Photography 2020

Quilting opened up a new world of color, texture, vibrancy, and tactile experience. As I learned new skills, I also met wonderful people who are passionate about creating — and generous with their fabric stashes. My great-grandma’s quilting is more meaningful to me now, especially because I finally understand the hundreds of hours she must have spent hand-stitching little hexagons of colorful scrap fabric. (My biggest project to date is an entirely hand-stitched 1-inch hexie quilt with 2,752 pieces of fabric, which took five years to complete.) 

Eventually, I joined the board of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild, an organization that lets me thrive as a leader and put lots of energy into charitable works. And 18 months ago, I began to marry my two favorite mediums as a writer for Quiltfolk magazine, which gave me the chance to travel the country and meet incredible makers, connecting their contemporary work with our cultural history. 

I’ve also learned that quilting is not just craft. It’s also art. 

Our culture values “fine arts” over handcraft, elevating mediums like painting and drawing (traditionally accessible mostly to men) while devaluing needlework (traditionally accessible mostly to women), not just in how works are displayed in museums, but also in how creators are compensated. But there’s a growing movement in the U.S. that seeks to elevate “women’s work” and I’m proud to be a ferocious supporter of that effort. 

@Amy Boyle Photography 2020

Today, I know that creative work is healing and liberating — and that I’m an artist, even if I can’t draw dogs. My new business, launched in December 2019, is a chance to teach others that creativity matters, no matter what medium you choose. Once again, I’m uniting my favorite mediums and passions, this time creating educational tools that teach people how to tap into their innate creativity, grow it as a resource, and even boost their resilience. I can’t wait to see what comes next!”

*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Jenni. 52 Phenomenal Women is now in its second year! This is week 17 of 52.

Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***

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