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Ashlee Lehr, Creative Content & PR Intern
Nov 12, 2020
Each of the Community Artist Residents chosen to participate in Free Space have both ties to Columbus and connections ranging across the globe. The artists not only represent a mastery of their respective practices, but offer insightful perspectives on what it means to be thoughtfully engaged in everyday life, especially during the uncertainty of a global pandemic.
Jonna Twigg was chosen as a participant in the project for her active role in the Columbus community, alongside with her stacked portfolio as an artist, businesswoman, mother and partner. A graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design, Twigg began her post-school career as a preparator focused on paper conservation, working on projects for the Guggenheim, the 9/11 Museum, and the Maurice Sendak Foundation. After teaching herself book binding, Twigg launched her own business in Brooklyn, Twigg’s Bindery. The authenticity and impeccable quality of her work garnered attention from the New York Times, Vogue, Martha Stewart Living and others. Twigg has since moved back to Ohio, operating her business on a smaller, custom scale.
Twigg recently answered a few questions regarding her participation in the Community Artist Residency.
How did you initially become involved in the Community Artist Residency?
I think my involvement grew out of the many ongoing conversations I have about the role that art and creative practice play in our community.
When the Wex approached you about Free Space, what were your thoughts on the project?
It struck me as an honest answer to the moment we're in—both an offering and a recognition at the same time.
What is your contribution to this project?
I'm there to be engaged, generate ideas, and share my practice with both the Wex and our community at large.
How did you get involved with book binding? How has your craft involved since you first started?
I started making books for myself in college to draw and write in, and then over the years I continued making books for friends and fellow artists. At some point over a decade ago I was looking for a way to generate income through my creative practice that didn't necessarily involve my artwork. I've always loved making (mostly blank) books because they're so useful and allow me to collaborate with others, so I decided to make a business out of them. While I no longer operate my business as I did in New York, it's something I'll always be doing in some way.
What sort of lessons can be learned from binding your own book?
Many things! Top of mind is the way in which binding your own book can reconnect you with many different objects in your tactile world. At some point in the process people often wonder aloud about other things in their life and start asking questions like; what else could I make? How was this made? What is it made of?
What kind of topics do you expect people to approach you regarding during your Office Hours?
I know I hope to converse with more people about what their lives are like right now, be an ear to anyone who needs one. I think our collective creative mind is hard at work trying to see our way through—so I have no expectations.
How do you think the meaning of community engagement has changed since COVID-19? What can we do to address these changes?
I'm not sure the meaning of community engagement has changed necessarily. What's changed is our inability to ignore the essential nature of the work itself. Whether you operate in the cultural space, health space, or any other, now is the time for inspired leadership at all levels working on behalf of the full community.
Twigg and other members of the Community Artist Residency, along with Wex curators and educators, are offering weekly Office Hours on site and online. For the next Office Hours, Wex Director Johanna Burton will be on hand to answer questions about the center's operations and our commitment to supporting local and international artists during COVID restrictions. If you'd like to connect with her, pay a visit Free Space on Tuesday, November 17 during the hour of 1 to 2 PM.
Jonna Twigg photo courtesy of the artist
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