Interview with Amelia Margaret Burrus-Granger

April 14th 2010

Interview with Amelia Margaret Burrus-Granger

Amelia Margaret Burrus-Granger is a lady of many talents. Having met her whilst working at a knitwear studio, where she was our resident knitting guru, we soon got to talking about her ‘other work’. Slightly uncomfortable with being labelled an artist, she focusses on craftsmanship and ‘process driven design’. On closer inspection, however, her work deals with ideas far beyond their process or design. Eloquent and unassuming, her work possesses a conceptual backing more than capable of ¬†holding it’s own within the ‘art’ context, whilst still being beautifully crafted design objects.

IS: What brought you to New York?

ABG: I moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology to study fashion design, specifically knitwear.

IS: You seem to move between the role of an artist and a designer, which would you rather be seen as, an artist in a designers world, or a designer in an artists world?

ABG: I think that I am more of a craftsman, juggling both worlds and attempting to merge them, as process-driven design.

IS: You’ve mentioned before that you moved towards Fashion and design in general because you didn’t like making things that didn’t have a function or purpose. ¬†Does this mean you find art ultimately without a purpose? Or have you just yet to find the function of your individual practice? And do you think that an art object cannot also be a functioning object?

ABG: I grew up not thinking that I was an artist. When I started designing, I thought that they had to have a career oriented purpose and when I was first going to university, my only option was engineering, according to my parents. Since I wasn’t interested in that, I went into liberal arts. It’s taken me a long time to appriciate and love the fact that I simply just cannot not make things. And even in realizing this, my immediate response was to make a career out of it, because frankly, I just want to be making things all day, all the time. But also respecting that creativity doesn’t flow all the time, having the skills within fashion design allows me to help others develop their visions as well, while I am in an ebb.

Fashion design to me is more of a reflection of my medium and skill interests. Art, of all mediums, always has the potential for purpose and function, and I only say potential because in order to have purpose or function there needs to be an interaction or influence on the world or even just the artist. I guess my view is fairly subjective, but that’s just how I think about things.

IS: Do you think it is important to have a clear role or position within the creative world?

ABG: No, I think that as people we are constantly changing and growing and therefore our role can change as well. I think that it is important to be true to yourself and allow yourself to change – be it your role, your medium, or even your output.

IS: What role do you think that collaboration and exchange of ideas takes in the creative process?

ABG: Collaboration and exchange of ideas is really important to me. I am interested in making art to begin a conversation, or engage in a current dialog, and if I do not connect with other people, then I’ve missed my point. I think that sometimes our internal dialog can become so inward that it ceases to relate to other people.

IS: Having lived in both the west coast and the east coast of the US, what would you say are the things you found the most and least appealing about both?

ABG: I always felt like there was a feeling in the west coast that was like the grass is always greener, that there was no commitment to anything, be it ideas, relationships, or passions, because there was always the potential for something better. I think this leads to some amazingly free mentalities and experiences. That would be my most and least appealing aspect of the west.
As for the east, it’s pretty different, which I would also relate to the history and deeper traditions and expectations. While problematic at times, it can also lead to a heightened respect and appreciation for the special and the unique. But I now miss the abundance of hippies, and recycling, and composting.

IS: What would be one piece of advice you would give to an artist moving to New York.

ABG: I’m a planner, so I would say: think of what you want out of this city, what you want to be doing and why are you moving here? The answer could be anything – to expand your craft, meet amazing people, have a show, or just to have a great experience – whatever it is, New York can give it to you, you just have to remember what you want, ’cause this city can also be really distracting.