Jessie Dunahoo


These videos depict the great Jessie Dunahoo at work, who we profiled previously (see that post here), who attends the studio at Latitude Artist Community in Lexington, Kentucky; Dunahoo has been exhibited by Andrew Edlin Gallery  and Institute 193.  From Institute 193:

"Jessie Dunahoo has created indoor/outdoor environments for many decades. Mr. Dunahoo was raised on a farm during a period when supports for people considered to have disabilities were even more limited than they are today. Apparently Mr. Dunahoo attended the Kentucky School for the Blind for at least a couple years. Beyond this Mr. Dunahoo was largely left to his own devices. Living on a farm in the 1930s- 40s allowed Mr. Dunahoo an opportunity to manipulate outdoor space and in so doing to created environments which he composed by moving earth and brush often by hand and also by finding and assembling objects/debris which were then placed in an ordered way throughout the manipulated area. Sometimes objects were places in significant places on the ground but most often they were placed in trees and bushes. Jessie used various fences and trees to hang intersecting strings, ropes, wires, etc. which could be grasped and threaded- in reality following a 3-d road map which he used (uses) in finding his way around outdoor space. One of Jessie's favorite materials is the recycled plastic shopping bag. He typically creates quilted three dimensional wall pieces from bags that are sewn together. His larger pieces have hundreds of bags sewn together in this manner. These pieces are usually intended to be installed outside- hung/decorated with various discarded/found pieces of rope, wire, bottles and whatever.
This practice has continued as Mr. Dunahoo aged and became a client of various social service supports. In various group/residential facilities Mr. Dunahoo has lived in over the years he has created many variations on this theme, sometimes to the bemusement of various housemates and neighbors and on at least one occasion- their hostility.
Mr. Dunahoo is very aware that others view and evaluate his constructions and he is always delighted to play the docent and escort an interested viewer around/through his installation."

Jessie Dunahoo


Jessie Dunahoo's compelling, beautiful installations are vehicles for relating his personal history and fictional narratives, while also recalling their genesis as navigational tools. Composed of patchwork, multi-layered panels, he diligently hand-stitches culled materials (plastic grocery bags, twine, fabric remnants and samples) together by touch, constructing large-scale tapestries, shelter-like structures that respond to specific rooms, as well as outdoor environments. Dunahoo's complex oeuvre feels akin to the work of other contemporary fiber artists (such as Sheila Pepe and Sabrina Gschwandtner), but also reflects the rich tradition and utility of quilt-making in rural Kentucky.

Dunahoo, 82, has been maintaining a studio practice at Latitute Artist Community in Lexington, Kentucky since their founding 15 years ago. He has shown previously at Andrew Edlin Gallery (NYC)  and extensively in the  Lexington area, including Institute 193, a non-profit contemporary exhibition space.

From Institute 193:

"Jessie Dunahoo began his art career as a child, sewing bread bags the length of his family’s farmhouse near Beattyville, Kentucky. As a young man, Dunahoo began exploring the family farm by hanging intersecting strings, ropes and wires which could be grasped and threaded, on various fences and trees, thereby creating 3-d maps which he used to navigate outdoor space.
Jessie Dunahoo is deaf and blind. In time, Dunahoo’s environments have grown and evolved into complex sewn structures made of found materials including grocery bags, fabric samples, pieces of old clothing and twine. Through an interpreter, Jessie describes his works as shelters, and they are strung about his home and yard, covering his walls, floor and ceiling. " (see more)