Art for some is a mystery, we view it completely outside the context in which it is made. What was the artist’s feeling when they made this, what is the message? Then there are artists whose work is so transparently expressive that we’re left with little doubt about what they feel as they create and what they want us to feel in experiencing it.
Jody Skjei (pronounced 'shay') is just this kind of person and artist. Jody is a cherished friend, and I admit I am completely biased when it comes to her and her work. The joy she brings to it is clear for all to see, and you can feel her artistic fervor.
Pretty much raised in Prescott, Jody moved here in 1972 when her parents bought the Apache Lodge, and she has always had a creative bent. Being a single mom raising two girls narrowed her focus, but she was always making something. Helping with her father’s upholstery business, then starting her own custom awning business, led her to realize that it was not what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. “I was discovering my life by exclusion —one of these days I may be who I want to be!” she says with a chuckle.
A welder friend introduced Jody to metal, and she was deeply attracted by the thought of creating three-dimensional objects. She caught the bug, taught herself to weld, and eventually went to California to learn the complex art of patination. A true junkyard devotee, she began with found metal objects, a creative draw in itself, and the possibilities of transforming what others thought of as trash into beauty with some serious permanence was very appealing.
“I love the discovery of metal, it has life and malleability that feeds my creativity.”
“I love the idea that you see some junk, and then life intertwines among the world’s castoffs.”
As with many artists, the thirst to solve problems drives much of her inspiration. Her work balances the masculine qualities of heavy metal and feminine gestures. She is currently focused on fusing different metals and using glass to achieve organic forms. “I love the idea that you see some junk, and then life intertwines among the world’s castoffs.”
Her current body of work encompasses larger-scale installations, usually commissioned. She finds challenge in working with a client, finding that thing they love, and translating it into metal art.
What’s on the horizon for Jody Skjei? The possibilities are open, but she does have itchy feet, and the lure of the road pulls sometimes. “I think about hitting the road with my dog and my welder, stopping and creating someone’s backyard junk into front-yard art,” she smiles. “How fun would that be?”
For now she is working on a collection for a spring studio show. The second annual Art Endures show will feature Jody and four other Prescott artists: Bill Cramer, Abby Brill, Anne Legge and Kerry Estes Keith. It happens Friday and Saturday May 7-8, 10-4pm.
You can find Jody’s sculptures at Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery on Whiskey Row, visit her website at skjeidesigns.com, or phone 928-308-1136.