Gulfport fashion designer Wendy Ohlendorf talks about her inspiration

She describes "finding the angel in marble" as part of our 'I am ArtJones' series.

Wendy Ohlendorf is a Gulfport fashion designer who will open her home studio during ArtJones on December 1-2. - via Wendy Ohlendorf
via Wendy Ohlendorf
Wendy Ohlendorf is a Gulfport fashion designer who will open her home studio during ArtJones on December 1-2.

Editor's note: Last year, Gulfport artists organized and hosted a home studio tour, ArtJones. Over the course of one weekend, anyone interested in seeing how artists work could walk, bike or drive to home studios featuring Gulfport's working artists. These artists may or may not be well-known locally, but they're all working artists. This go 'round, meet sculptor Wendy Ohlendorf. Here she is, in her own words:

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set her free.” —Michelangelo

I asked myself what inspires me, then thought, really, what is inspiration? Where does it come from?

There is a passion and drive when creating... a never-ending need to finish a design. All the while sparks are flying, like Fourth of July fireworks simultaneously going off with new visions; inspirations from the current design. The design in progress is manifesting visions of the next design.

A prominent clothing designer in Portland, Oregon once described this phenomenon to me as how a collection is born. One design or look inspires the next one [and they all have] a connective thread running through them.

But how do I start?  Where does the inspiration begin?

For me as an artist, it is a movie, a piece of architecture, music, animals, how leaves overlap while the light shines through them creating a multitude of chiffon layers dancing in the wind. Or how the setting sun dances on the ocean in an iridescent, random yet rhythmic pattern of Czech glass beads on the bodice of a fine silk wedding dress. Or how that same ocean provides frothy asymmetric swirls of tulle and lace as the sea foam is envisioned on the hemline of that same wedding dress. Inspiration is everywhere. It is up to me to see it and share its story in a wearable work of sculpture; to find the angel in the marble.

Inspiration is ignited through the senses and transposed to the “canvas” by the artist, designer or craftsperson. 

I am formally educated as a fine artist, a painter. I hold a BFA with an emphasis in interior design. I call upon these media and this education to convey my vision. I paint often on fabric, I engineer, I design — I put them all into the garment. I cannot tell you why it is clothing design that is my chosen medium. I can tell you that it is the most gratifying and for me the most expressive. I utilize my interior design degree for its intended purpose and I paint regularly, but it is clothing design that gives me the most freedom of expression. It allows me to convey my inspiration and vision the most effectively to my audience.

My heart is truly engulfed in joy when I create a design especially for someone. A client will choose to take the journey with me. I help guide them; give them the tools and ways to find what is inspirational to them. Together we find that magic to create their commissioned custom design. In the end, at the final fitting, it is their beaming smile, their proud stance, the dance, the electrified and radiant joy — that is what fuels me.

To see this happiness that my art brings to another is worth every hour, the solving of engineering equations, sourcing the needed materials, inevitable pin pricks, lack of sleep, running out of thread mid seam… it is the energy and love brought to my chosen canvas. It is transforming inspiration into my language of art.

I am Wendy Ohlendorf. I am ArtJones.

ArtJones is an annual open studio tour of Gulfport’s professional arts community. 2018 dates are Saturday and Sunday, December 1-2. This series features the musings of ArtJones artists. Never miss a local art show — sign up for Creative Loafing's weekly Do This newsletter.

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