We are thrilled to spotlight our latest Marfa Muse, Ferren Gipson.
We met Ferren through a mutual admiration for the Quilter’s of Gee’s Bend, who were part of the research for her second book Women’s Work, which celebrates the stories of modern and contemporary women artists working in textiles and ceramics. You may also spot one of our Marfa Stance x the Quilter’s of Gee’s Bend beautiful framed artworks in the background of Ferren’s home.
Ferren is a Brirish-American art historian, artist and advocate for art education. Her work can be found across multiple mediums including books, articles, interviews and 68 episodes of her popular visual arts podcast Art Matters. Her art practice explores the themes of labour, matrilineal connections, materiality and colour. Her most recent group exhibitions include Hauser & Wirth’s ‘The New Bend’ and ‘Within and Without’ which she curated at Unit London.
Ferren wears the Parachute Parka in midnight, reverse olive and cobalt in size S-M, paired with the Aviator collar in orange and the Shearling collar in fluffy pink, plus the new Parachute Bomber in amethyst, bronze in size S-M, with the Aviator Collar in olive shearling and sky blue leather.
Tell us about your background
I am an art historian and artist. I’m from the US, but I’ve been living and working in London for the past 14 years. Storytelling is probably the most consistent element across all of my work. I do this through writing, a podcast series, video content, giving talks, teaching, and my textile art practice.
Talk us through your career journey so far
After earning my BA and MA in art history, I went to work for an art retailer for a couple of years before leaving the sector for a while. After having my son, I took a break to reflect on my purpose and passions, which led me back to art. I went to work for Art UK, which is an amazing resource for exploring the UK’s public art collections. There, I was able to host a podcast, write, and start giving talks. I also went back to university to work on my PhD in art history, which I’m still doing now (hopefully it’ll be done soon!). Now, I work completely freelance, which enables me to work on many different projects. I sometimes write for the Financial Times, I’ve written two books (The Ultimate Art Museum and Women’s Work), and I regularly give talks at incredible institutions. I also began developing my art practice in the last couple of years and have recently shown my work at Hauser & Wirth and Unit London.
What inspires your work?
Within my art historical practice, I’m inspired by getting other people interested in the subject. I know that people can find art intimidating and I work hard to present art history in a fun and accessible way. I also love to surface stories that are not told as often, so that can include a range of things from sharing fascinating crossovers between art and pop culture, to championing the works of women and people of colour.I was inspired to begin my textile practice while writing Women’s Work. The book celebrates the work of over 30 modern and contemporary women artists working in textiles and ceramics. As I was writing, I felt that I wanted to connect with the topic in an experiential way, so I decided to make a quilt. I wasn’t setting out to establish a practice—I just thought that this would be a personal way of understanding and relating to some of the themes I was researching. I also wanted to connect with the history of the women in my own family, who made quilts and clothes for many decades. Over time, my work became more experimental and I realised that I had organically developed a practice. In my textile practice, I’m interested in exploring themes of labour, matrilineal connections, materiality, abstraction and colour.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the work I get to do today, as a whole. I enjoy it and it’s meaningful to me. If my work has positively impacted anyone in any way, I’d be very proud of that. If I had to pinpoint something more specific, I’d say that I’m proud of the two books I’ve written and the TED Talk I gave recently.
I’m currently finishing a book project that should be out next year. I’m also working on an idea for my next art book and a novel, so I’ll definitely do more writing in the future. Aside from that, I love trying new things. It would be great to explore television or documentary work at some point.
How do you style your Marfa Stance piece and why do you like the brand?
People literally stop me on the street when I wear my Parachute Parka to ask about it. It makes me feel stylish, even if I’m just wearing a sweatsuit underneath to go pick up my son from school! It’s cosy, cool and practical, so that’s a great combination. Also, I love that I can pile the big pockets full of whatever I need—at several points last winter I had a book in there!
Photographer: Amelia Allen